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See also: make-shift and make shift


Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]

1680s. From the verb form make shift.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈmeɪkˌʃɪft/
  • (file)


makeshift (plural makeshifts)

  1. A temporary (usually insubstantial) substitution.
    • 1871–72, George Eliot, Middlemarch, Chapter 17
      I am not a model clergyman, only a decent makeshift.
    • Sir Humphry Davy
      Hoboism cannot be cured or prevented by makeshifts or by local measures and efforts, although community interest naturally is vital in dealing with a problem that comes home to every community.


makeshift (comparative more makeshift, superlative most makeshift)

  1. Made to work or suffice; improvised; substituted.
    They used the ledge and a few branches for a makeshift shelter.
    • 2012 May 26, Phil McNulty, “Norway 0-1 England”, in BBC Sport[1]:
      Hodgson was able to introduce Arsenal teenager Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for his debut late on as this makeshift England line-up closed out a victory that was solid for the most part without ever threatening to be spectacular.

Etymology 2[edit]

1560s. From make +‎ shift.


makeshift (plural makeshifts)

  1. (obsolete) A rogue; a shifty person.
    • 1592, Harvey, Gabriel, “The First Letter”, in Four Letters and Certain Sonnets[2], new edition, London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, published 1814, A Due Commendation of the Quipping Author, page 2:
      Greene the coneycatcher, of this dream the author, / For his dainty devise deserveth the halter. / A rakehell, a makeshift, a scribbling fool; / A famous bayard in city and school: / Now sick as a dog, and ever brain-sick, / Where such a raving and desperate Dick?

See also[edit]


  • makeshift” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2019, retrieved 19 June 2018.