\ ˈrīf How to pronounce rife (audio) \

Definition of rife

1 : prevalent especially to an increasing degree suspicion and cruelty were rife— W. E. B. DuBois
3 : copiously supplied : abounding usually used with with rife with rumors

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Other Words from rife

rife adverb
rifely adverb

Did You Know?

English is rife with words that have Germanic connections, many of which have been handed down to us from Old English. Rife is one of those words. Not a whole lot has changed with rife in its 900-year history. We continue to use the word, as we have since the 12th century, for negative things, especially those that are widespread or prevalent. Typical examples are "shoplifting was rife" or "the city was rife with greed and corruption." Rumors and speculation are also frequently described as "rife," as well. But rife can also be appropriately used, as it has been for hundreds of years, for good or neutral things. For example, you might speak of "the summer garden, rife with scents."

Examples of rife in a Sentence

Speculation about who would be fired ran rife for weeks. a city government that is rife with malfeasance and corruption

Recent Examples on the Web

Speculation is rife about a possible breakup of the conservative bloc of Merkel's Christian Democratic Union and Seehofer's CSU, which together have been Germany's leading political force for much of its post-war history. Geir Moulson, Fox News, "Germany's Merkel faces race against time in migrant standoff," 28 June 2018 Speculation is rife about a possible breakup of the conservative bloc of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and Seehofer’s CSU, which together have been Germany’s leading political force for much of its post-war history. Washington Post, "Germany’s Merkel faces race against time in migrant standoff," 27 June 2018 And the border cities are just rife with cartel people. Corey Seymour, Vogue, "Two Hours in an Undisclosed Location With the Cartel Wives Whose Husbands Helped Bring Down El Chapo," 22 June 2018 In the run-up to Kate Middleton’s wedding to Prince William in 2011, speculation was rife about the impending vows. Jennifer Hassan, BostonGlobe.com, "A look at the royal wedding traditions — and pressures — that Meghan Markle and Prince Harry face," 16 May 2018 But the concept of Hell also has played a vital cathartic function in societies rife with injustice, providing the grim satisfaction that tyrannical leaders, corrupt priests and other evildoers would not escape God’s judgment in the world to come. Scott G. Bruce, WSJ, "Do We Still Need to Believe in Hell?," 13 Sep. 2018 There are several abandoned lots in the area rife with weeds and graffiti. Parker Leavitt, azcentral, "Readers' picks: Worst West Valley eyesores," 16 Feb. 2016 Curtis made his discovery near the end of the 1910s, a decade that had been rife with theoretical explosions about the nature of the universe. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "How They Got the Black Hole Picture That Changed Science," 10 Apr. 2019 Media speculation has been rife for several months that Conte will leave Chelsea at the end of the campaign. Tony Jimenez, chicagotribune.com, "Fabregas: Chelsea must dispel 'regret' ahead of FA Cup final," 18 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'rife.' 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 rife

12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for rife

Middle English ryfe, from Old English rȳfe; akin to Old Norse rīfr abundant

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Last Updated

11 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for rife

The first known use of rife was in the 12th century

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English Language Learners Definition of rife

: very common and often bad or unpleasant

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More from Merriam-Webster on rife

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with rife

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for rife

Spanish Central: Translation of rife

Nglish: Translation of rife for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of rife for Arabic Speakers

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