from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. In widespread existence, practice, or use; increasingly prevalent.
  • adj. Abundant or numerous.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Widespread, common (especially of unpleasant or harmful things).
  • adj. Abounding; present in large numbers, plentiful.
  • adj. Having power; active; nimble.
  • adv. Plentifully, abundantly.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Prevailing; prevalent; abounding.
  • adj. Having power; active; nimble.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Great in quantity or number; abundant; plentiful; numerous.
  • Well supplied; abounding; rich; replete; filled: followed by with.
  • Easy.
  • Prevalent; current; in common use or acceptance.
  • Publicly or openly known; hence, manifest; plain; clear.
  • Abundantly; plentifully.
  • Plainly; clearly.
  • Currently; commonly; frequently.
  • An obsolete form of rive.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. most frequent or common
  • adj. excessively abundant


Middle English, from Old English rȳfe.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English, from Old English rīfe, rȳfe ("rife, abundant, frequent"), from Proto-Germanic *rīfijaz (“generous”), from Proto-Indo-European *rēip-, *rēib- (“motley”). Cognate with West Frisian rju ("rife, much"), Low German rive ("abundant, munificent"), Dutch rijf ("abundant, copious"), Norwegian riv ("rife"), Icelandic rífr ("rife, munificent"), Icelandic reifa ("to bestow"). (Wiktionary)



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  • Yea, verily.

    January 16, 2008

  • An odd word. It means common. English is rife with weird-sounding stuff like this.

    August 9, 2007

  • This is the place, as well as I may guess,
    Whence eev'n now the tumult of loud Mirth
    Was rife, and perfet in my list'ning ear...

    Milton, Comus

    December 16, 2006