\ˈrīf \

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

Summer 2018's been rife with quickie celebrity engagements. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "8 Celebrity Couples Who Got Engaged Super Quickly—and Are Still Together," 3 Aug. 2018 Exxon excelled in coming through on budget and as scheduled in projects rife with political and engineering complexity. Bradley Olson, WSJ, "Exxon, Once a ‘Perfect Machine,’ Is Running Dry," 13 July 2018 As is its wont, the internet immediately grew rife with speculation and memes. Leah Rodriguez, The Cut, "Rihanna Responds to Memes of Her Arguing With Boyfriend With a Meme of Her Own," 12 July 2018 Its school system is underfunded and abandoned properties are rife. Tamara Warren, The Verge, "Inside Detroit’s crumbling train station that Ford plans to transform into a mobility lab," 20 June 2018 The company flirted with building its own batteries and reportedly tried to secure a contract for cobalt, an important mineral for lithium-ion batteries that primarily comes from conflict-rife areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Megan Geuss, Ars Technica, "Chinese firm will build battery factory in Germany to supply BMW, Volkswagen," 9 July 2018 That evening, in the stand which housed a lower number than usual of travelling England fans behind the goal, negativity was rife. SI.com, "90Min World Cup Fan Diaries: Starting to Believe," 8 July 2018 As Prince William's wife will have recently given birth, speculation regarding her role in the royal wedding has been rife. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kate Middleton's Role at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's Wedding Has Been Revealed," 21 Apr. 2018 The filter may be different, but the experience is a familiar one — the teens and early 20s can be a confusing nightmare of a journey, rife with dramatic and comedic material. Lorraine Ali, latimes.com, "Netflix’s 'On My Block' continues the recent wave that treats teens of color as more than just sidekicks," 15 Mar. 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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Statistics for rife

Last Updated

12 Nov 2018

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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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Comments on rife

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


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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