\ 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 withrife 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 The electronics company, once a must-stop for techies, is rife with empty shelves with many speculating either bankruptcy or closure for the chain. Shwanika Narayan, SFChronicle.com, "Charles Fry, who started a grocery chain in the Bay Area, dies at 92," 23 Jan. 2020 Congress is conspicuously rife with the performative ethic. Barton Swaim, WSJ, "‘A Time to Build’ Review: When All of Politics Is a Stage," 17 Jan. 2020 Wariness towards new foreign military operations is rife among voters in both parties. Stephen Collinson, CNN, "The Iraq War haunts the 2020 vote," 15 Jan. 2020 German culture is rife with concepts and artifacts that allow people to articulate their profound distrust of this provincialism, and turn closeness, connectedness, and intuitive understanding into something monstrous and uncanny. Adrian Daub, Longreads, "All Hail the Rat King," 13 Dec. 2019 According to Wirecutter Deals editor Nathan Burrow, the holiday season is rife with gift card promotions. Elissa Sanci, Woman's Day, "3 Things You Should Buy in December — and 3 Things You Shouldn’t," 30 Nov. 2019 The scouting report on Fultz is still rife with warts. Marc Stein, New York Times, "Markelle Fultz Gets Another Shot," 12 Nov. 2019 In fact, apps like WhatsApp are rife with vulnerabilities that allow hackers to inject spyware, intercept messages, alter attachments and crash the app for all members of a group chat, cybersecurity researchers have discovered over the past year. Dalvin Brown, USA TODAY, "How Jeff Bezos was reportedly hacked: Could you be next?," 24 Jan. 2020 This paved, multi-use trail is rife with opportunities to see wildlife. Emily Pennington, Outside Online, "The 25 Best Accessible Trails in America," 15 Jan. 2020

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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Time Traveler for rife

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

19 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Rife.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rife. Accessed 23 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for rife

How to pronounce rife (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of rife

: very common and often bad or unpleasant

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More from Merriam-Webster on rife

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for rife

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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