First Name
in the U.S.
since 1880
Last Name
in the U.S.
in 2010
On This Page

How to Pronounce Drift

  • Automated Male (English)
    Is this an accurate pronunciation?
  • Automated Female (English)
    Is this an accurate pronunciation?
How difficult is it to pronounce Drift?

Meaning and Origin

What does the name Drift mean? Find out below.

Origin and Meaning of Drift

Submit the origin and/or meaning of Drift to us below

Webster's Unabridged Dictionary
noun Drift
  1. A driving; a violent movement."The dragon drew him [self] away with drift of his wings." [King Alisaunder (1332).]
  2. The act or motion of drifting; the force which impels or drives; an overpowering influence or impulse."A bad man, being under the drift of any passion, will follow the impulse of it till something interpose." [South.]
  3. Course or direction along which anything is driven; setting."Our driftwas south." [Hakluyt.]
  4. The tendency of an act, argument, course of conduct, or the like; object aimed at or intended; intention; hence, also, import or meaning of a sentence or discourse; aim."He has made the drift of the whole poem a compliment on his country in general." [ Addison.]"Now thou knowest my drift." [Sir W. Scott.]
  5. That which is driven, forced, or urged along
    1. Anything driven at random.
      "Some log . . . a useless drift."
    2. A mass of matter which has been driven or forced onward together in a body, or thrown together in a heap, etc., esp. by wind or water; as, a drift of snow, of ice, of sand, and the like.
      " Drifts of rising dust involve the sky." [ Pope.]
      "We got the brig a good bed in the rushing driftof ice]." [Kane.]
    3. A drove or flock, as of cattle, sheep, birds.
      "Cattle coming over the bridge (with their great drift doing much damage to the high ways)." [ Fuller.]
  6. [Arch] The horizontal thrust or pressure of an arch or vault upon the abutments.(R)
  7. [Geol] A collection of loose earth and rocks, or boulders, which have been distributed over large portions of the earth's surface, especially in latitudes north of forty degrees, by the agency of ice.
  8. In South Africa, a ford in a river.
  9. [Mech] A slightly tapered tool of steel for enlarging or shaping a hole in metal, by being forced or driven into or through it; a broach.
  10. [Mil]
    1. A tool used in driving down compactly the composition contained in a rocket, or like firework.
    2. A deviation from the line of fire, peculiar to oblong projectiles.
  11. [Mining] A passage driven or cut between shaft and shaft; a driftway; a small subterranean gallery; an adit or tunnel.
  12. [Naut]
    1. The distance through which a current flows in a given time.
    2. The angle which the line of a ship's motion makes with the meridian, in drifting.
    3. The distance to which a vessel is carried off from her desired course by the wind, currents, or other causes.
    4. The place in a deep-waisted vessel where the sheer is raised and the rail is cut off, and usually terminated with a scroll, or driftpiece.
    5. The distance between the two blocks of a tackle.
  13. The difference between the size of a bolt and the hole into which it is driven, or between the circumference of a hoop and that of the mast on which it is to be driven.
  14. [Phys. Geog] One of the slower movements of oceanic circulation; a general tendency of the water, subject to occasional or frequent diversion or reversal by the wind; as, the easterly drift of the North Pacific.
  15. [Aëronautics] The horizontal component of the pressure of the air on the sustaining surfaces of a flying machine. The lift is the corresponding vertical component, which sustains the machine in the air.

Note: Drift is used also either adjectively or as the first part of a compound. See Drift (a.)

Etymology: From drive; akin to LG. & D. drift a driving, Icel. drift snowdrift, Dan. drift, impulse, drove, herd, pasture, common, G. trift pasturage, drove. See Drive

verb Drift
  1. To float or be driven along by, or as by, a current of water or air; as, the ship drifted astern; a raft drifted ashore; the balloon drifts slowly east. "We drifted o'er the harbor bar." [ Coleridge.]
  2. To accumulate in heaps by the force of wind; to be driven into heaps; as, snow or sand drifts .
  3. [mining] to make a drift; to examine a vein or ledge for the purpose of ascertaining the presence of metals or ores; to follow a vein; to prospect.(U.S)
verb Drift
  1. To drive or carry, as currents do a floating body.
  2. To drive into heaps; as, a current of wind drifts snow or sand.
  3. [Mach] To enlarge or shape, as a hole, with a drift.
adjective Drift
That causes drifting or that is drifted; movable by wind or currents; as, drift currents; drift ice; drift mud.
Other Dictionary Sources
  1. A horizontal (or nearly horizontal) passageway in a mine ("they dug a drift parallel with the vein")
  2. The pervading meaning or tenor ("caught the general drift of the conversation")
  3. A general tendency to change (as of opinion)
  4. A large mass of material that is heaped up by the wind or by water currents
  5. A force that moves something along
  6. The gradual departure from an intended course due to external influences (as a ship or plane)
  7. A process of linguistic change over a period of time
  8. Be piled up in banks or heaps by the force of wind or a current ("snow drifting several feet high" and "sand drifting like snow")
  9. Be subject to fluctuation ("The stock market drifted upward")
  10. Drive slowly and far afield for grazing ("drift the cattle herds westwards")
  11. Cause to be carried by a current ("drift the boats downstream")
  12. Move about aimlessly or without any destination, often in search of food or employment ("the laborers drift from one town to the next")
  13. Be in motion due to some air or water current ("the boat drifted on the lake", "The sailboat was adrift on the open sea", and "the shipwrecked boat drifted away from the shore")
  14. Move in an unhurried fashion ("The unknown young man drifted among the invited guests")
  15. Wander from a direct course or at random ("don't drift from the set course")
  16. Live unhurriedly, irresponsibly, or freely ("My son drifted around for years in California before going to law school")
  17. Vary or move from a fixed point or course ("stock prices are drifting higher")

Notable Persons With the Last Name Drift

Chris was born on March 8th, 1986 in Hamilton.


Observer Drift is a dream pop, independent music, shoegazing, and chillwave musician. They were most prominent from 2011 to 2011. Observer was given the name Collin Ward .


Where is the name Drift popular?

View popular names by state or region.

Popularity of Drift as a last name

The map shows the absolute popularity of the name Drift as a last name in each of the states. See other popular names in Minnesota, New Jersey, or Arizona.

Ethnicity Distribution

Ethnicity Drift U.S.
  White 39.46% 64.26%
  African American 0.00% 11.96%
  Asian, Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander 0.00% 4.85%
  American Indian and Alaska Native 51.02% 0.69%
  Two or More Ethnicities 7.48% 1.76%
  Hispanic or Latino 0.00% 16.26%

Of Last Name Drift

People with the last name Drift are most frequently White or American Indian and Alaska Native

Entire United States

Fun Facts about the name Drift

  • How Popular is the name Drift? As a last name Drift was the 118,185th most popular name in 2010.
  • When was the first name Drift first recorded in the United States? The oldest recorded birth by the Social Security Administration for the name Drift is Thursday, March 10th, 1898.
  • How unique is the name Drift? From 1880 to 2017 less than 5 people per year have been born with the first name Drift. Hoorah! You are a unique individual.
  • Weird things about the name Drift: Your name in reverse order is Tfird. A random rearrangement of the letters in your name (anagram) will give Rfdit. How do you pronounce that?
  • How many people have the last name Drift? In 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau surveyed 147 people with the last name Drift.
  • How likely are you to meet someone with the last name of Drift? Drift is one of the most unique last names recorded.

What Drifts Have Visited This Page?

Name poster for Drift

Name poster for Drift(click to save the high quality version)

Most Popular Names

All Name Lists

  • Sources:
  • U.S. Census Bureau: Frequently Occurring Surnames from the Census 2000 (public domain).
  • 1913 Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary via the Collaborative International Dictionary of English (License)
  • Other Dictionary Sources: WordNet 3.1 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University (License).
  • Notable persons via Wikipedia: Titles and License. Click each image for the attribution information.