mid·​riff | \ˈmi-ˌdrif \

Definition of midriff 

2 : the mid-region of the human torso

3a : 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

Aside from KStew’s cleverly exposed midriff (and her deliberately bare feet), Kendall Jenner continued her mission to free the nipple. Calin Van Paris, Vogue, "The Best Beauty Looks on the Cannes Red Carpet: Kristen Stewart’s Clever Skin Reveals (and More!)," 21 May 2018 Her cheerful deputy, Maci (Richardson, outshining the sun), supplies some more practical advice on how to keep customers happy: Smile wide, lightly touch their arms or shoulders, and let those tight little uniforms and bared midriffs do the rest. Justin Chang, The Seattle Times, "‘Support the Girls’: Regina Hall calls the shots in terrific sports-bar comedy," 27 Aug. 2018 The girl was last seen wearing a black midriff shirt with tan capri pants. Chris Harris, PEOPLE.com, "Marshals Arrest Sex Offender Suspected of Abducting 15-Year-Old Girl, But Teen Remains Missing," 29 May 2018 Most recently, on Monday, Jenner posted a mirror selfie video of her stomach area by lifting up her oversized white sweater and revealing her midriff. Karen Mizoguchi, PEOPLE.com, "Kylie Jenner Shows Off Her 11-Week Post-Baby Body in Curve-Hugging Dress," 24 Apr. 2018 With ten minutes remaining in the first half, Mandzukic twisted and turned his way into the Atalanta area, but was denied by the onrushing Etrit Berisha, with the Atalanta keeper's midriff feeling the full force Mandzuckic's effort. SI.com, "Juventus 1-0 Atalanta (2-0 Agg): Pjanic Penalty Seals Old Lady's Place in Coppa Italia Final," 28 Feb. 2018 Cap sleeves, padded hips, and dots may all be throwbacks from another era, but Lily-Rose’s flash of midriff ensured that the look remained modern. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "Vanessa Paradis and Lily-Rose Depp Share a Chic Mother-Daughter Moment at Chanel," 3 July 2018 The incident occurred during Denmark's 1-0 friendly win over Panama when in the 65th minute, Schmeichel raced off his line to clear the ball, only to be caught in the midriff by a flying foot from Perez. SI.com, "Kasper Schmeichel Lucky to Avoid Serious Injury After Nasty Clash With Panama Striker," 23 Mar. 2018 Adorn your midriff with a gold incarnation from Jacquie Aiche or a silver piece by Free People. Madeline Fass, Vogue, "From Anklets to Toe Rings, This Is the Summer of Throwback Jewelry," 6 July 2018

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 1

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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Statistics for midriff

Last Updated

13 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for midriff

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

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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 \

Kids Definition of midriff

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


mid·​riff | \ˈmid-ˌrif \

Medical Definition of midriff 

2 : the mid-region of the human torso

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More from Merriam-Webster on midriff

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with midriff

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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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a knickknack or trinket

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