mid·​riff | \ ˈmi-ˌdrif How to pronounce midriff (audio) \

Definition of midriff

1 : the mid-region of the human torso : midsection
2a : a section of a woman's garment that covers the midriff
b : a woman's garment that exposes the midriff

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Did You Know?

Midriff is now most commonly encountered in the mid-torso or clothing-related senses. These senses are relatively young, having appeared, respectively, in the early 19th and mid-20th centuries. For most of its history, however, midriff has been used to refer to the diaphragm (a large flat muscle separating the lungs from the stomach area). The diaphragm sense has been with us since the earliest known use of midriff in Bald's Leechbook, an Old English medical manuscript that is believed to date back to the 9th century. The riff in midriff comes from Old English hrif ("belly, womb"). Hrif is akin to Old High German href ("womb") and probably also to Latin corpus ("body").

Examples of midriff in a Sentence

She wore a skimpy outfit that showed her bare midriff. midriff-baring tops are popular this summer
Recent Examples on the Web In Crossroads, the male gaze is sometimes present — whenever Lucy, Kit, and Mimi are on-stage, the camera pans over their legs and midriffs, laid bare by tiny skirts and crop tops. Anne Cohen, refinery29.com, "Crossroads Hinted At Britney Spears’ Future Problems — But We Didn’t Listen," 10 Mar. 2020 For others, symptoms can include a bulging midriff, breast pain and cysts, moodiness, changes in appetite, energy, and concentration level—and major sleep disturbances. Time, "Gen X Women Get Less Sleep Than Any Other Generation. What's Keeping Them Up?," 6 Jan. 2020 With a skirt cut up to the crotch and a midriff stretching to below the navel, the dress revealed a full span of leg and an ample swath of bare sternum and breasts, stopping precariously short of revealing the nipples. Naomi Fry, The New Yorker, "The Super Bowl Halftime Show, and the Ageless Comforts of J. Lo.," 3 Feb. 2020 That belt of aqua-blue paint across the slab’s midriff is pleasantly harmless. John King, San Francisco Chronicle, "Seven urban landscape features you can’t ignore," 27 Feb. 2020 The collection was disciplined, hewing to the fashion house’s cold-weather credo of outsized Canadian outerwear of fur, leather, down-fill and checked flannel over snug, hip-hugging, mini and midriff-baring looks. Washington Post, "DSquared2 fetes Milan Fashion’s 25 years with Sister Sledge," 10 Jan. 2020 Ben Mee's header across goal forced a back-peddling save on the line from Rui Patricio, but after his parry hit Ryan Bennett in the midriff, goal-line technology was required before the referee definitively ruled no-goal. SI.com, "Wolves 1-1 Burnley: Report, Ratings and Reaction as Late Penalty Earns Wanderers a Point," 25 Aug. 2019 The filmmakers then relented and changed the movie’s name, deleting scenes and modifying a song in which Padukone was originally seen baring her midriff. Manavi Kapur, Quartz India, "One of Bollywood’s top actors takes a rare political stand and joins India’s student protesters," 7 Jan. 2020 Featuring a sculptural bodice with a capelet neckline and a perfect midriff slit above the skirt, the dress gives the illusion of a crop top. Meagan Fredette, Teen Vogue, "Naomi Scott Won the Red Carpet in a Bubblegum Pink Brandon Maxwell Gown," 22 May 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'midriff.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of midriff

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for midriff

Middle English mydref, mydrif "diaphragm, omentum," going back to Old English midhrif, from mid- mid entry 1 + hrif "belly, womb," going back to Germanic *hrifiz- (whence also Old Frisian midrif "diaphragm," Old Saxon inhrif "innards," Old High German href, ref "womb"), going back to *krep-es-, *krep-os-, full-grade derivative of Indo-European *kr̥p- "body, form," whence also Latin corpor-, corpus "body" (from *kr̥p-os-), Middle Irish crí, Sanskrit kr̥p- "shape, appearance," Avestan kəhrp

Note: The base may be *ḱr̥p- with a palatovelar if it is assumed that Indo-Iranian palatovelars lost their palatal quality before r. Earlier reconstructed with initial *kw- on the basis of Greek prapídes "midriff," but it has been claimed that Greek regularly dissimilated *kw-p- to *k-p-; also a labiovelar would probably not result in a front vowel in Irish crí.

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The first known use of midriff was before the 12th century

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Last Updated

18 Apr 2020

Cite this Entry

“Midriff.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/midriff. Accessed 29 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for midriff


How to pronounce midriff (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of midriff

: the area around a person's middle : the front of a person's body between the chest and the waist


mid·​riff | \ ˈmid-ˌrif How to pronounce midriff (audio) \

Kids Definition of midriff

: the middle part of the human body between the chest and the waist


mid·​riff | \ ˈmid-ˌrif How to pronounce midriff (audio) \

Medical Definition of midriff

2 : the mid-region of the human torso

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More from Merriam-Webster on midriff

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for midriff

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with midriff

Spanish Central: Translation of midriff

Nglish: Translation of midriff for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of midriff for Arabic Speakers

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