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See also: Rife and rifé



From Middle English rife, from Old English rīfe, rȳfe (rife, abundant, frequent), from Proto-Germanic *rībaz (generous), from Proto-Indo-European *reyp- (to tear (off), rip). Cognate with West Frisian rju (rife, much), Low German rive (abundant, munificent), Dutch rijf (abundant, copious), Icelandic rífr (rife, munificent), Icelandic reifa (to bestow).


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ɹaɪf/
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -aɪf


rife (comparative rifer, superlative rifest)

  1. Widespread, common, prevalent, current (mainly of unpleasant or harmful things).
    Smallpox was rife after the siege had been lifted.
    • Arbuthnot
      Before the plague of London, inflammations of the lungs were rife and mortal.
    • Milton
      The tumult of loud mirth was rife.
    • 1900, Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams, Avon Books, (translated by James Strachey) pg. 170:
      The 'denominational considerations' mentioned below relate, of course, to anti-Semitic feeling, which was already rife in Vienna during the last years of the nineteenth century.
  2. Abounding; present in large numbers, plentiful.
    These woodlands are rife with red deer.
    Watermelons are rife with seeds.
  3. Full of (mostly unpleasant or harmful things).
    Many post-colonial governments were rife with lawlessness and corruption.
    • 2013, Daniel Taylor, Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic climbs highest to sink Benfica (in The Guardian, 15 May 2013)[1]
      They will have to reflect on a seventh successive defeat in a European final while Chelsea try to make sense of an eccentric season rife with controversy and bad feeling but once again one finishing on an exhilarating high.
  4. (obsolete) Having power; active; nimble.
    • J. Webster
      What! I am rife a little yet.


Derived terms[edit]



rife (comparative more rife, superlative most rife)

  1. Plentifully, abundantly.
    The snowdrops grow rife on the slopes of Mount Pembroke.






  1. First-person singular (yo) present subjunctive form of rifar.
  2. Formal second-person singular (usted) present subjunctive form of rifar.
  3. Third-person singular (él, ella, also used with usted?) present subjunctive form of rifar.