1

riff

noun \ ˈrif \
|Updated on: 11 Jul 2018

Definition of riff

1 : an ostinato phrase (as in jazz) typically supporting a solo improvisation; also : a piece based on such a phrase
2 : a rapid energetic often improvised verbal outpouring; especially : one that is part of a comic performance
3 : a succinct usually witty comment
4 : a distinct variation : take
  • a disturbing … riff on the Cinderella story
  • —Daria Donnelly

Examples of riff in a Sentence

  1. He stole that riff from another song.

  2. a mock news program with humorous riffs on current events

Recent Examples of riff from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'riff.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of riff

probably by shortening & alteration from refrain

2

riff

verb

Definition of riff

riffed; riffing; riffs
: to perform, deliver, or make use of a riff

Recent Examples of riff from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'riff.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of riff

1948

in the meaning defined above

See Words from the same year
NEW! Time Traveler

3

riff

verb

Definition of riff

riffed; riffing; riffs
: riffle, skim
  • riff pages

Origin and Etymology of riff

short for riffle

RIFF Defined for English Language Learners

riff

Definition of riff for English Language Learners

  • music : a short and usually repeated pattern of notes in a song

  • : a short set of comments on a particular subject


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