See also: make-shift and make shift


Alternative formsEdit

Etymology 1Edit

1680s. From the verb form make shift.


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


makeshift (plural makeshifts)

  1. A temporary (usually insubstantial) substitution.
    • 1871, George Eliot [pseudonym; Mary Ann Evans], chapter XVII, in Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life, volume I, Edinburgh; London: William Blackwood and Sons, OCLC 948783829, book II (Old and Young), page 316:
      And I am not a model clergyman—only a decent makeshift.
    • (Can we date this quote by Sir Humphry Davy and provide title, author’s full name, and other details?)
      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 2Edit

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 alsoEdit


  • makeshift” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2020, retrieved 19 June 2018.