rife

adjective
\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

Keep scrolling for more

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 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 But Okeechobee is rife with chemicals and nutrients from agricultural and development runoff—and the combination of nutrient-rich waters and warm temperatures create ideal conditions for algal blooms. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "A Toxic Algal Bloom Is Spreading in Florida’s Waterways," 10 July 2018 The passage is rife with every sort of caution sign. Vahe Gregorian And Maria Torres, kansascity, "Yordano Ventura’s final year filled with family turmoil, emotional distress," 6 July 2018 With new manager Julen Lopetegui taking the reins from Zinedine Zidane, speculation is rife. SI.com, "Toni Kroos Ends Manchester United Transfer Speculation by Reiterating Contract Promise," 2 July 2018 But imposing tariffs on existing supply chains is rife with unintended consequences. Greg Ip, WSJ, "That Noise You Hear Is the Sound of Globalization Going Into Reverse," 27 June 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about rife

Listen to Our Podcast about rife

Dictionary Entries near rife

RIF

rifacimento

rifampin

rife

rifeness

rife with

riff

Phrases Related to rife

rife with

Statistics for rife

Last Updated

15 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for rife

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for rife

rife

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of rife

: very common and often bad or unpleasant

Keep scrolling for more

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).

WORD OF THE DAY

not any or not one

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble-tiles-that-read-scrabble-quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!