[ 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.

Nearby words

  1. client/server network,
  2. clientage,
  3. cliental,
  4. clientele,
  5. clifden nonpareil,
  6. cliff brake,
  7. cliff dweller,
  8. cliff dwellers,
  9. cliff swallow,
  10. cliff-hang

Origin of cliff

before 900; Middle English clif, Old English, cognate with Dutch, Low German, Old Norse klif

Related formscliff·like, adjective


[ klif ]
/ klɪf /


a male given name, form of Clifford or Clifton. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for cliff

British Dictionary definitions for cliff


/ (klɪf) /


a steep high rock face, esp one that runs along the seashore and has the strata exposed
Derived Formscliffy, adjective

Word Origin for cliff

Old English clif; related to Old Norse kleif, Middle Low German klēf, Dutch klif; see cleave ²

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

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