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When you are talking about a boat, adrift means not anchored, moored at a dock or under controlled power (engine or wind) with a working rudder.

When you are talking about a person, adrift means that the person has not defined any purpose for himself or herself. It doesn’t have to be a monumental purpose. Going for a walk and taking in the sights will do. But if you have no purpose or intent whatsoever and can’t figure out how to get a purpose or intent—even a superficial one—you are said to be adrift.

If an empty-headed purposeless person stumbles onto a powerboat boat after wandering around aimlessly and that boat, which is out of gas and has no steering, breaks free of its mooring, that person would be adrift while adrift. I doubt that happens often, but you never know.

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