midriff

noun

mid·​riff ˈmi-ˌdrif How to pronounce midriff (audio)
plural midriffs
1
: the mid-region of the human torso : midsection
2
a
: a section of a garment that covers the midriff
b
: a garment that exposes the midriff
3

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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 for more than 1,000 years, with the earliest known uses being found in Old English manuscripts such as Bald's Leechbook, a medical text 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").

Example Sentences

She wore a skimpy outfit that showed her bare midriff. midriff-baring tops are popular this summer
Recent Examples on the Web Small distressed details could be spotted on the shin and thigh areas of the jeans, which hung low on her hips and exposed her midriff. Seventeen, 8 Aug. 2022 Show off your midriff with this summery floral print set. Rana Good, Forbes, 28 June 2022 In the images, the mother-of-four looks pretty in a pink midriff-baring gown, while Ruelas, 48, rocked a bright pink shirt and gray pants. Nicholas Rice, PEOPLE.com, 18 June 2022 Notably on display are the 47-year-old actress’ toned midriff and legs. Alyssa Bailey, ELLE, 22 June 2022 Exactly where the cutouts are on a dress varies from piece to piece; the dress might feature larger cutouts in the rib cage and midriff or cutouts on the side that show off your back a bit. Nicol Natale, PEOPLE.com, 11 June 2022 The Poosh founder wore a maxi dress featuring a midriff cutout and accessorized with a thick gold chain necklace. Chelsey Sanchez, Harper's BAZAAR, 8 Apr. 2022 Balmain show, which included a slew of midriff-exposing looks on straight-size models. Frances Solá-santiago, refinery29.com, 25 Mar. 2022 Torsos peered through while sections of midriff were cut down to a ribbed undergarment that resembled human flesh. Thomas Adamson, ajc, 4 July 2022 See More

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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Word History

Etymology

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.

First Known Use

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

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

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Dictionary Entries Near midriff

Cite this Entry

“Midriff.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/midriff. Accessed 19 Aug. 2022.

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Kids Definition

midriff

noun
mid·​riff ˈmid-ˌrif How to pronounce midriff (audio)
: the middle part of the human body between the chest and the waist

Medical Definition

midriff

noun
mid·​riff ˈmid-ˌrif How to pronounce midriff (audio)
1
2
: the mid-region of the human torso

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Last Updated: 19 Aug 2022

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