Simple Definition of rife
: very common and often bad or unpleasant
Examples of rife in a sentence
Speculation about who would be fired ran rife for weeks.
<a city government that is rife with malfeasance and corruption>
Did You Know?
English is rife with words that have Germanic connections, many of which have been handed down to us from Old English. Rife is one of those words. Not a whole lot has changed with rife in its 900-year history. We continue to use the word, as we have since the 12th century, for negative things, especially those that are widespread or prevalent. Typical examples are "shoplifting was rife" or "the city was rife with greed and corruption." Rumors and speculation are also frequently described as "rife," as well. But rife can also be appropriately used, as it has been for hundreds of years, for good or neutral things. For example, you might speak of "the summer garden, rife with scents."
Origin of rife
Middle English ryfe, from Old English rȳfe; akin to Old Norse rīfr abundant
First Known Use: 12th century
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