Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Lacking ambition or purpose; lazy: a shiftless student.
  • adj. Characterized by a lack of ambition or energy: studied in a shiftless way.
  • adj. Lacking resourcefulness or efficiency; incompetent.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. lazy, unmotivated
  • adj. untrustworthy as a result of being incompetent at the job

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Destitute of expedients, or not using successful expedients; characterized by failure, especially by failure to provide for one's own support, through negligence or incapacity; hence, lazy; improvident; thriftless

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Lacking in resource or energy, or in ability to shift for one's self or one's own; slack in devising or using expedients for the successful accomplishment of anything; deficient in organizing or executive ability; incapable; inefficient; improvident; lazy: as, a shiftless fellow.
  • Characterized by or characteristic of slackness or inefficiency, especially in shifting for one's self or one's own.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. lacking or characterized by lack of ambition or initiative; lazy

Etymologies

shift, expedient + -less.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • Then comes Sol Hyde, whom they call the shiftless one, but swift and cunning, and much to be dreaded.

    The Free Rangers A Story of the Early Days Along the Mississippi

  • It proved that this Dennis Shea was a harmless, amiable fellow, of the class known as shiftless, who had sealed his fate by marrying a dumb wife, who was tramadol at that moment ironing in the laundry..

    Rob Savage

  • It proved that this Dennis Shea was a harmless, amiable fellow, of the class known as shiftless, who had sealed his fate by marrying a dumb wife, who was magnesium at that moment ironing in the laundry..

    Rob Savage

  • It proved that this Dennis Shea was a harmless, amiable fellow, of the class known as shiftless, who had sealed his fate by marrying a dumb wife, who was flexeril at that moment ironing in the laundry..

    Rob Savage

  • It proved that this Dennis Shea was a harmless, amiable fellow, of the class known as shiftless, who had sealed his fate by marrying a dumb wife, who was meclizine at that moment ironing in the laundry..

    Rob Savage

  • It proved that this Dennis Shea was a harmless, amiable fellow, of the class known as shiftless, who had scaled his fate by marrying a dumb wife, who was at that moment ironing in the laundry.

    The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 04, No. 23, September, 1859

  • Indeed, being of that type which is called shiftless, he was only too happy to be told daily what to do, and to be charged not to be forthputting or in any way original in his discharge of that duty.

    The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 04, No. 23, September, 1859

  • Of old he had been known as a shiftless and harddrinking mountaineer with a sour farm that was plastered with mortgages.

    His Dog

  • It was one of the greatest griefs in the life of Solomon Hyde, called the shiftless one, that he was compelled to yield to Henry's advice.

    The Riflemen of the Ohio A Story of the Early Days along "The Beautiful River"

  • It proved that this Dennis Shea was a harmless, amiable fellow, of the class known as shiftless, who had sealed his fate by marrying a dumb wife, who was at that moment ironing in the laundry.

    If, Yes and Perhaps Four Possibilities and Six Exaggerations with Some Bits of Fact

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