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

Definition of midriff

1 : the mid-region of the human torso : midsection
2a : a section of a garment that covers the midriff
b : a 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 After our interview, Bentley disappears and, minutes later, Douglason emerges in a midriff-baring T-shirt, angular Oakleys resting on his nose. Jon Freeman, Rolling Stone, "Dierks Bentley Worries About the Future of Live Music, But He’s Announcing a Tour Anyway," 7 May 2021 Finally, Carey Mulligan, also nominated Best Actress for her role in Promising Young Woman, wore a shimmery gold Valentino Haute Couture gown with a cutout high on her midriff and Cartier High jewelry diamonds. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "The 2021 Oscars Red Carpet Was All About the '90s Midriff," 26 Apr. 2021 Our take: For those who are comfortable with some midriff exposure, this hooded sweatshirt has the bohemian appeal of an original tie-dye garment at a nice price. Michael Pollick, chicagotribune.com, "The best tie-dye sweatshirt," 14 Apr. 2021 For instance, Moss is seen waking up, driving a convertible, and frolicking in a country wood setting in a sheer midriff and nipple baring Boho-style. Roxanne Robinson, Forbes, "NFT Digital Art Form Captures Kate Moss, Model And Icon," 9 Apr. 2021 In response, Santos then posted online a photo of herself exposing her bare midriff and clearly not pregnant. Josh Peter, USA Today, "'We still feel the guilt:' Tyler Summitt, son of legendary coach, tries to move on from scandal," 8 Apr. 2021 Snyder is a pulp enthusiast, a meticulous stylist, a skilled orchestrator of violence and a devoted connoisseur of the human midriff. Los Angeles Times, "Review: ‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’ has arrived. The wait was long — and so is the movie," 15 Mar. 2021 The model wore a floor-length black dress featuring a high slit, and a long-sleeve crop top, revealing her midriff. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Hailey Bieber Stuns in a Sleek Cut-Out Dress for Date Night with Justin Bieber," 27 Feb. 2021 The midriff accessory first caught our attention early this summer, when Rihanna included a pearl belly chain in Fenty’s 6.20 drop, a three-part line inspired by ‘90s rave culture and ‘00s logomania. Eliza Huber, refinery29.com, "2020’s Most Popular Trends Were As Peculiar As The Year Itself," 24 Dec. 2020

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

15 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Midriff.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/midriff. Accessed 18 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for midriff



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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