What is the exact meaning of "to offset the drift" in the following passage?

The King made a public appearance accompanied by the Queen and the royal children and mingled with reporters. The idea was to offset the drift of the Prime Minister announcement about the King’s departure.

It should be added the King was about to leave the country because of a revolution and the Prime Minister was happy with this departure. In fact, he was an old enemy of the King.

Thanks very much.

  • Are you sure you’ve transcribed the quote correctly? It seems poorly written regardless of the weird “offset the drift” expression. Where did you read it? Please edit your question to provide more context, and if possible add a link to the source of the quote. Jun 27, 2019 at 13:56
  • Using "Prime Minister" as an attributive noun seems odd. Perhaps there were errors in transcription.
    – Lawrence
    Jun 27, 2019 at 14:33
  • Hi! It is a passage from the book "The Shah, the Islamic revolution, and the United States" . The passage was exactly the same written in the book, without any change. The Prime Minister was an old foe of the King whose father was killed by the King's father. He tried to persuade the King to leave the country. This explanation, I hope, be usefull. And of course, English is not the native language of the writer of the book. .
    – Arya
    Jun 27, 2019 at 14:45

3 Answers 3


Compare this usage of drift to the Merriam-Webster entries 3a and b for drift:

: a general underlying design or tendency

perceiving the drift of the government's policies

b : the underlying meaning, import, or purport of what is spoken or written

the drift of a conversation

When a conversation, a policy, or some other utterance (including an announcement) has a drift, that drift refers to a general meaning or purpose behind what's being said. While the turn of phrase is a bit unusual, offsetting the drift would involve working against the meaning or purpose of the announcement.

In your quote, the king works against the underlying meaning of the Prime Minister's announcement of his departure by sticking around a while longer. Perhaps the king is trying to signal that he moves at his own pace and not by command.

I hope you catch my drift!


drift OED

The fact or condition of being driven, as by a current; the action of drifting; a slow course or current. Also figurative. on or upon the drift

The idea was to offset the drift of the Prime Minister announcement about the King’s departure.

The PM had announced the King's departure. The news became the 'drift, (or on or upon the drift) in its figurative sense: a fact being driven like a current. The king mitigated (offset) this fact(drift) by continuing to be seen in public.


to offset something means to compensate for it, or to make up for something or counteract.

It is mostly used in technical language (carpentry, masonry etc.), and accounting (offset an account) as a verb or noun.

As a verb, it means: counteract (something) by having an opposing force or effect. "the deficit has been more than offset by capital inflows" [google dictionary or whatever it's called.]

drift means: to vary or deviate from a set course or adjustment. transitive verb. Merriam-Webster.

The announcement of the king's leaving would push the country off-course (the direction it was moving in or make it drift) as it would be left with no ruler. The minister wanted to counteract or offset that. That is, he wanted to correct the course (the deviation or drift from the course) the kingdom might move in. It is a maritime or navigation metaphor.

Ship's have courses and they sometimes drift off course due to wind, currents or inattention by sailors. When you drift off course,it has to be corrected by returning to the proper one.

Of course, it didn't work because there was about to be imam-led revolution in Iran.

offset the drift = counteract the possibility that the country would drift (move) off course.

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