drift

If you get my drift, you get the basic meaning of what I'm saying. Or, if you move around without a seeming fixed destination, you are said to drift — whether you're a snowflake or just a wanderer.

Interestingly, the verb to drift can be used either approvingly or disapprovingly. We rather admire the freedom of certain objects that drift, such as snow drifts or drift wood, but applied to people we're a bit more critical: we tend to harbor suspicions of the carefree Gypsy or nomad, hence the moral criticism (and danger) inherent in the term drifters.

Definitions of drift
  1. verb
    be in motion due to some air or water current
    “the boat drifted on the lake”
    “the shipwrecked boat drifted away from the shore”
    synonyms: be adrift, blow, float
    float
    move lightly, as if suspended
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    types:
    waft
    be driven or carried along, as by the air
    tide
    be carried with the tide
    stream
    to extend, wave or float outward, as if in the wind
    type of:
    go, locomote, move, travel
    change location; move, travel, or proceed, also metaphorically
  2. verb
    cause to be carried by a current
    drift the boats downstream”
    Synonyms:
    be adrift, blow, float
    be in motion due to some air or water current
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    type of:
    float
    set afloat
  3. verb
    drive slowly and far afield for grazing
    drift the cattle herds westwards”
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    type of:
    crop, graze, pasture
    let feed in a field or pasture or meadow
  4. noun
    a force that moves something along
    synonyms: impetus, impulsion
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    type of:
    force
    (physics) the influence that produces a change in a physical quantity
  5. verb
    wander from a direct course or at random
    “don't drift from the set course”
    synonyms: err, stray
    cast, ramble, range, roam, roll, rove, stray, swan, tramp, vagabond, wander
    move about aimlessly or without any destination, often in search of food or employment
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    type of:
    go, locomote, move, travel
    change location; move, travel, or proceed, also metaphorically
  6. verb
    vary or move from a fixed point or course
    “stock prices are drifting higher”
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    type of:
    vary
    be subject to change in accordance with a variable
  7. verb
    be subject to fluctuation
    “The stock market drifted upward”
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    type of:
    change
    undergo a change; become different in essence; losing one's or its original nature
  8. noun
    a general tendency to change (as of opinion)
    synonyms: movement, trend
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    types:
    evolutionary trend
    a general direction of evolutionary change
    gravitation
    a figurative movement toward some attraction
    neoteny
    an evolutionary trend to be born earlier so that development is cut off at an earlier stage and juvenile characteristics are retained in adults of the species
    type of:
    disposition, inclination, tendency
    an attitude of mind especially one that favors one alternative over others
  9. noun
    a process of linguistic change over a period of time
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    types:
    melioration
    the linguistic process in which over a period of time a word grows more positive in connotation or more elevated in meaning
    type of:
    linguistic process
    a process involved in human language
  10. noun
    the gradual departure from an intended course due to external influences (as a ship or plane)
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    types:
    leeway
    (of a ship or plane) sideways drift
    type of:
    action, activity, natural action, natural process
    a process existing in or produced by nature (rather than by the intent of human beings)
  11. verb
    move in an unhurried fashion
    “The unknown young man drifted among the invited guests”
    Synonyms:
    freewheel
    live unhurriedly, irresponsibly, or freely
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    type of:
    circulate
    move around freely
  12. verb
    live unhurriedly, irresponsibly, or freely
    “My son drifted around for years in California before going to law school”
    synonyms: freewheel
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    type of:
    exist, live, subsist, survive
    support oneself
  13. verb
    move about aimlessly or without any destination, often in search of food or employment
    “the laborers drift from one town to the next”
    synonyms: cast, ramble, range, roam, roll, rove, stray, swan, tramp, vagabond, wander
    err, stray
    wander from a direct course or at random
    wander
    go via an indirect route or at no set pace
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    types:
    maunder
    wander aimlessly
    gad, gallivant, jazz around
    wander aimlessly in search of pleasure
    type of:
    go, locomote, move, travel
    change location; move, travel, or proceed, also metaphorically
  14. verb
    be piled up in banks or heaps by the force of wind or a current
    “snow drifting several feet high”
    “sand drifting like snow”
  15. noun
    a large mass of material that is heaped up by the wind or by water currents
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    types:
    drumlin
    a mound of glacial drift
    snowdrift
    a mass of snow heaped up by the wind
    type of:
    mass
    a body of matter without definite shape
  16. noun
    the pervading meaning or tenor
    “caught the general drift of the conversation”
    synonyms: purport
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    type of:
    strain, tenor
    the general meaning or substance of an utterance
  17. noun
    a horizontal (or nearly horizontal) passageway in a mine
    “they dug a drift parallel with the vein”
    synonyms: gallery, heading
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    type of:
    passageway
    a passage between rooms or between buildings
Word Family