• (RP) IPA: /ˈdɹɪftə/
  • (America) IPA: /ˈdɹɪftɚ/

drifter (plural drifters)

  1. (sometimes, pejorative) A person who moves from place to place or job to job.
  2. (nautical) A type of lightweight sail used in light winds like a spinnaker.
    • 1995, Ken Textor, The New Book of Sail Trim (page 85)
      In winds above 10 knots we usually run wing-and-wing with our 100 percent lapper set on a whisker pole opposite the mainsail. As the wind drops, we get out the drifter and set it flying to leeward (Fig. 1).
    • 1999, Lin Pardey, Larry Pardey, Cost Conscious Cruiser: Champagne Cruising on a Beer Budget
      After trying a variety of light-wind sails, we've found the most versatile and simple one to be a nylon drifter.
    • 2000, Jim Howard, Charles J. Doane, Handbook of Offshore Cruising (page 178)
      Some people recommend a medium- to lightweight 140- or 150-percent headsail, and others go for a drifter/reacher.
  3. (automotive) A driver who uses driving techniques to modify vehicle traction to cause a vehicle to slide or power slide rather than drive in line with the tires.
    • 2006, Paul Morton, How to Drift: The Art of Oversteer (page 32)
      However, sensing the available traction may actually be more important to a drifter.
    • 2007, Calvin Wan, Calvin Wan's Drifting Performance Handbook (page 132)
      For professional drifters looking for even more fine-tuning of their suspension setups, some companies offer more advanced two-way adjustable shocks […]
    • 2009, Michael Bender, The Fast, the Fraudulent and the Fatal (page 50)
      While this method is used by a few drifters in rear-wheel drive cars, this technique is really the only way one can drift in a front-wheel drive car.
  4. (angling) One who takes part in drift fishing.
  5. (angling) A boat used for drift fishing.
  6. A parachutist who jumps before the rest of the group to determine the environmental conditions.
    • 1948, Aeroplane and Commercial Aviation News (volume 75, page 557)
      As we circled the area, the Dakota appeared and dropped a drifter.
    • 1962, Queen's Medical Magazine (volumes 54-55, page 31)
      […] a circling Beverley dropped parachutists in small groups — a few hard words were said about R.A.F. organisation. The time came at last for the first four to get into the balloon car. First out was a drifter — an experienced parachutist who jumps first to assess conditions by allowing himself to drift at random.
  7. (mining, historical) A person employed in driving in rock other than coal.
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