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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Beautiful skirt suit hybrids, geometric shoulders and peplums followed a silvery fishlike shawl top that was gathered at the midriff. Thomas Adamson, The Seattle Times, "Starry Saint Laurent show in Paris sees models walk on water," 25 Sep. 2018 Yesterday’s ensemble married these aesthetics in one neat piece, which featured an off-the-shoulder neckline to highlight Kardashian West’s décolletage (and tan), while a sliver of skin at the midriff acted as a seamless alternative to the crop top. Edward Barsamian, Vogue, "Kim Kardashian West Brings Sultry Beachside Style to the Red Carpet," 16 July 2018 Indian brides are expected to transform into Bollywood stars for a day or more, which usually means wearing a midriff-baring dress with lots of colors and heavy embroidery. Rashna Shetty, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Fat-Eliminating Treatment That Helped Me Slim Down Before My Wedding," 8 Feb. 2019 And then there is her curve hugging, midriff baring ensemble, replete with her twins' names printed on the back. Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez Rang in 2019 With a Jaw-Dropping Couples Workout," 2 Jan. 2019 Bassett’s stylist, Jennifer Austin, told PeopleStyle in March that Bassett wasn’t hesitant about showing her midriff. Kaitlyn Frey, PEOPLE.com, "Angela Bassett, 59, Shows Off Her Toned Body in Black One-Piece: 'Everybody You Good?'," 21 May 2018 Posting several snaps of her latest look, Jenner bared her midriff, while keeping things casual in sportswear: Since giving birth, Jenner has been sharing more and more selfies, and is clearly feeling super happy and confident since becoming a mom. Amy Mackelden, Marie Claire, "Kylie Jenner Shows Off Her Post-Pregnancy Midriff on Instagram, Again," 4 Apr. 2018 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

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.

See More

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.

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about midriff

Listen to Our Podcast about midriff

Dictionary Entries near midriff








Statistics for midriff

Last Updated

19 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for midriff

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Comments on midriff

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


to make a payment or contribution

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time traveler quiz which word came first
  • Which came first?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!