riff


1riff

noun \ˈrif\

music : a short and usually repeated pattern of notes in a song

: a short set of comments on a particular subject

Full Definition of RIFF

1
:  an ostinato phrase (as in jazz) typically supporting a solo improvisation; also :  a piece based on such a phrase
2
:  a rapid energetic often improvised verbal outpouring; especially :  one that is part of a comic performance
3
:  a succinct usually witty comment
4
:  a distinct variation :  take <a disturbing…riff on the Cinderella story — Daria Donnelly>

Examples of RIFF

  1. He stole that riff from another song.
  2. <a mock news program with humorous riffs on current events>

Origin of RIFF

probably by shortening & alteration from refrain
First Known Use: 1935

Other Music Terms

cacophony, chorister, concerto, counterpoint, madrigal, obbligato, presto, presto, refrain, segue

2riff

verb

Definition of RIFF

intransitive verb
:  to perform, deliver, or make use of a riff

First Known Use of RIFF

1948

Other Music Terms

cacophony, chorister, concerto, counterpoint, madrigal, obbligato, presto, presto, refrain, riff, segue

3riff

verb

Definition of RIFF

:  riffle, skim <riff pages>

Origin of RIFF

short for riffle
First Known Use: 1952

Browse

Next Word in the Dictionary: Riffian
Previous Word in the Dictionary: rifeness
All Words Near: riff

Seen & Heard

What made you want to look up riff? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).