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Petrichor: The smell after rainfall


[rif] /rɪf/
noun, plural Riffs, Riffi
[rif-ee] /ˈrɪf i/ (Show IPA).
(especially collectively) Riff.
a member of the Berber people living in Er Rif in northern Morocco.
Related forms
Riffian, adjective, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for riffian
Historical Examples
  • Some of them went so far as to send warships to cruise along the riffian coast.

British Dictionary definitions for riffian


(in jazz or rock music) a short series of chords
(intransitive) to play or perform riffs in jazz or rock music
(informal) to speak amusingly or make (amusing comments or remarks)
Word Origin
C20: probably altered and shortened from refrain²
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 riffian



"melodic phrase in jazz," 1935 (but said to have been used by musicians since c.1917), of uncertain origin, perhaps a shortened form of riffle, or altered from refrain. The verb is attested from 1942, from the noun. Also in extended use. Related: Riffed; riffing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for riffian

riff 1


  1. An improvised passage, esp a solo; break, lick: an initially funky bass riff (1917+ Jazz musicians)
  2. A solo passage of any sort: He never inflates a movement, never accelerates into showy riffs of excess energy (1917+ Jazz musicians)
  3. A particular variation or version: I have actually eaten something called a pastrami burrito dog, sort of a riff on the oki dog (1990s+)
  4. A piece of personal behavior, esp of entertainment; shtick: allow the star to do character riffs that approximate the sort of things she does as monologues in her one-woman show/ He can make out the riffs and scams of the inner city like a dog picking up a scent (1980s+)

[origin unknown; perhaps echoic; perhaps fr refrain; perhaps fr riffle or ripple in the sense of ''try, shot, crack'']

riff 2


A refrigerator car; reefer1 (1950s+ Railroad)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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