Catch my drift

Posted by R. Berg on February 18, 2002

In Reply to: Catch my drift posted by ty on February 18, 2002

: I found the archive with the question "Does anyone know waht catch my drift means and where it comes from?" However, I am not convinced that the question was answered in its entirety... Does anyone know it's origin or who coined the phrase?

It's very unlikely that anyone could find out who said it first. The phrase uses this meaning of "drift": "General meaning or purport; tenor" (American Heritage Dictionary, 1969, sense 5b of "drift" as a noun; by the way, sense 5a is "A trend or general bearing; direction," and from that we can see how "drift" came to mean the meaning that a speaker is aiming at).
The earliest quotation in the Oxford English Dictionary for this sense of "drift" is dated 1526: "Harde it is . . . to perceyue the processe and dryfte of this treatyse."