\ 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

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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 Eventually, the two moved to Inglewood in Los Angeles County, whose neighborhoods were rife with street gangs. Star Tribune, "Review: 'Floating in a Most Peculiar Way,' by Louis Chude-Sokei," 12 Feb. 2021 In the novel, the theater world is rife with professional jealousy. New York Times, "Working in TV, Jen Silverman Wrote a Novel. About Theater.," 10 Feb. 2021 YouTube channels from Scandinavian countries are rife with responses to that challenge. Jonathon Ramsey, Car and Driver, "Scandinavian YouTube Responds to GM's Will Ferrell Super Bowl Ad," 8 Feb. 2021 Through much of the last year, investors soured on Exxon, and Wall Street was rife with rumors that the company would slash its dividend to preserve cash. Clifford Krauss, New York Times, "After a Bruising Year, the Oil Industry Confronts a Diminished Future," 2 Feb. 2021 This may include re-litigating his claims that the 2020 presidential election was rife with voter fraud that swung the race to Biden. W. James Antle Iii, Washington Examiner, "Still tethered to Trump, Republicans have ample impeachment risks," 2 Feb. 2021 Your reputation is highlighted today and your professional world is rife with opportunity. Tarot Astrologers, chicagotribune.com, "Daily horoscope for January 22, 2021," 22 Jan. 2021 If loneliness was the unspoken theme of CES 2020, this year's all-digital event was rife with anxiety and stress, both the everyday variety and the kind specific to the current health crisis. Samantha Murphy Kelly, CNN, "CES is a fantasyland of futuristic products. But this year it was dominated by our bleak present," 16 Jan. 2021 The meetings between Elisabeth and Alfred are rife with tension. David James, Anchorage Daily News, "‘How Quickly She Disappears’ is a masterful work in the genre of subarctic noir," 16 Jan. 2021

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

23 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Rife.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rife. Accessed 4 Mar. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of rife

: very common and often bad or unpleasant

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Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for rife

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Britannica English: Translation of rife for Arabic Speakers

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