rife

adjective
\ 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 The buyout market has been rife with bigs, but the Sixers have struck out so far. Bryan Toporek, Forbes, "Sixers Can't Let Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception Go To Waste," 8 Apr. 2021 The top Trump ally said that even if Newsom is successfully recalled -- a process that is not complete and is still rife with pitfalls, Grenell says -- the new governor would only be in office briefly before the 2022 election. Tyler Olson, Fox News, "Grenell group seeks to reshape California politics beyond recall: Californians want 'permanent change'," 8 Apr. 2021 The late 19th and early 20th centuries are rife with examples of company towns, chocolate-centric Hershey, Pennsylvania, among them. Dallas News, "Starbase, Texas: Can Elon Musk really create his own city near SpaceX’s Gulf Coast launchpad?," 6 Apr. 2021 League rules have evolved as such to favor the offense, and the courts across the world are rife with a generation of scorers primed to take advantage of them. Jeff Mcdonald, San Antonio Express-News, "Spurs hope Cavs prove the fix for their malfunctioning defense," 4 Apr. 2021 Civil rights groups have sued to block the new Georgia law, which was passed after Democrats flipped the once-reliably Republican state in an election that Donald Trump falsely claimed was rife with fraud. Bill Barrow, chicagotribune.com, "Pressure mounts on corporate America to denounce GOP voting bills," 3 Apr. 2021 Civil rights groups have sued to block the new Georgia law, which was passed after Democrats flipped the once-reliably Republican state in an election that Donald Trump falsely claimed was rife with fraud. Arkansas Online, "Pressure mounts on corporations to denounce GOP voting bills," 3 Apr. 2021 The late 19th and early 20th centuries are rife with examples of company towns, chocolate-centric Hershey, Pa., among them. Samantha Masunaga, Los Angeles Times, "Elon Musk wants to create his own city. Here’s how that could work," 2 Apr. 2021 Other cities are also rife with vacant private-market units; one report put the number of such units in Los Angeles at 93,000. Robin Kaiser-schatzlein, The New Republic, "How Housing Activists Took on Philadelphia and Won," 29 Mar. 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

12 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Rife.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rife. Accessed 13 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for rife

rife

adjective

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

Nglish: Translation of rife for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of rife for Arabic Speakers

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