\ ˈrīf How to pronounce rife (audio) \

Definition of rife

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

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 long history. We continue to use the word for negative things, especially those that are widespread or prevalent. Examples are "shoplifting was rife" or "the city was rife with greed and corruption." Rumors and speculation are also frequently described as "rife." But rife can also be appropriately used for good or neutral things. For example, you might speak of the summer garden being "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 Truancy was rife and a public health emergency had taken hold of the town; many of Bardon’s students had no parents. Anthony Ham, Smithsonian Magazine, 13 May 2022 The system has proven rife with wild speculation and technically-legal shadiness, as Reuters’ report detailed Wednesday. Jacob Carpenter, Fortune, 11 May 2022 Rather than consigning apes to stuffy, shadowy cages where lung diseases ran rife, the open-air attraction featured artificial-rock monoliths furnished with heat and light. Rebecca Giggs, The Atlantic, 6 May 2022 But his efforts to transform the country were undermined by graft, which remained rife even at the highest levels of government. New York Times, 22 Apr. 2022 Once back in Libya, the migrants are typically taken to government-run detention centers rife with abuse and ill-treatment. Samy Magdy, ajc, 16 Apr. 2022 Yet in the hours after news broke that West would not be performing at the festival, which starts in 10 days, speculation was rife about who — if anyone — might fill his slot. Jem Aswad, Variety, 5 Apr. 2022 Had the rumor, rife among the brand’s global army of online pundits, that the famously secretive manufacturer would discontinue or update the Air King proved correct? Nick Scott, Robb Report, 30 Mar. 2022 No need to worry — the region is rife with all sorts of fascinating activities to enjoy between hikes. Jared Ranahan, Travel + Leisure, 28 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

18 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Rife.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rife. Accessed 26 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on rife

Nglish: Translation of rife for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of rife for Arabic Speakers


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