\ 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

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 Many mass murderers and other criminals have left behind an online trail Beierle’s YouTube and SoundCloud history is rife with violent sexism. Anna North, Vox, "How mass shooters practice their hate online," 4 Nov. 2018 The nation’s offices, factory floors and break rooms, which have grown unusually rife with political discussion, have closely felt the impact of the Kavanaugh debate, according to interviews with dozens of working men and women. Julie Jargon, WSJ, "The Kavanaugh Effect: Political Debates Shake Up the Workplace," 7 Oct. 2018 The camps, which have been here for generations, are now rife with depression, substance abuse, and suicide - a taboo topic in Karen culture. Hollie Mckay, Fox News, "Burma's Karen refugees face dwindling aid, struggle with depression and suicides," 15 Aug. 2018 The Hellfire Club is rife with Beltway intrigue and backroom deals, but Tapper's leading lady is what kept us turning pages. Elisabeth Egan, Glamour, "CNN's Jake Tapper Wrote Your New Favorite Fictional Heroine," 23 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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Statistics for rife

Last Updated

14 May 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

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 speak slightingly about or to degrade

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