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[klif] /klɪf/
a high steep face of a rock.
a critical point or situation beyond which something bad or undesirable may occur:
The committee is right up to the cliff with no deal in sight.
Origin of cliff
before 900; Middle English clif, Old English, cognate with Dutch, Low German, Old Norse klif
Related forms
clifflike, adjective
1. bluff, promontory, ledge, crag.


[klif] /klɪf/
a male given name, form of Clifford or Clifton. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for cliff
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • In the meantime someone had picked up the trail to the cliff, and Dozier followed it.

    Way of the Lawless Max Brand
  • And then they came to the edge of the cliff, where the heel marks ended.

    Way of the Lawless Max Brand
  • Nothing showed on the rocks, nothing showed on the face of the cliff.

    Way of the Lawless Max Brand
  • She looked over the cliff down an appalling depth of hundreds of feet.

    Her Father's Daughter Gene Stratton-Porter
  • They were at the foot of a cliff, over which the animal had probably fallen.

    A Woman Tenderfoot Grace Gallatin Seton-Thompson
British Dictionary definitions for cliff


a steep high rock face, esp one that runs along the seashore and has the strata exposed
Derived Forms
cliffy, adjective
Word Origin
Old English clif; related to Old Norse kleif, Middle Low German klēf, Dutch klif; see cleave²
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for cliff

Old English clif "rock, promontory, steep slope," from Proto-Germanic *kliban (cf. Old Saxon clif, Old Norse klif, Middle Dutch klippe, Dutch klip, Old High German klep, German Klippe "cliff, promontory, steep rock").

Clift has been a variant spelling since 15c. and was common in early Modern English, influenced by or merged with clift, a variant of cleft (n.). Cliff-dweller first attested 1889, American English.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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