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  1. of common or frequent occurrence; prevalent; in widespread existence, activity, or use: Crime is rife in the slum areas of our cities.
  2. current in speech or report: Rumors are rife that the government is in financial difficulty.
  3. abundant, plentiful, or numerous.
  4. abounding (usually followed by with).

Origin of rife

before 1150; Middle English; Old English rīfe; cognate with Middle Dutch rijf abundant, Old Norse rīfr
Related formsrife·ly, adverbrife·ness, nouno·ver·rife, adjectiveun·rife, adjective
Can be confusedrife ripe (see synonym study at ripe)

Synonyms for rife

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Antonyms for rife

3. scarce.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for rife


adjective (postpositive)
  1. of widespread occurrence; prevalent or currentrumour was rife in the village
  2. very plentiful; abundant
  3. (foll by with) abounding (in)a land rife with poverty
Derived Formsrifely, adverbrifeness, noun

Word Origin for rife

Old English rīfe; related to Old Norse rīfr generous, Middle Dutch rīve
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 rife

Old English rife "abundant, common, prevalent," from Proto-Germanic *rif- (cf. Old Norse rifr, Swedish river, Norwegian riv, Middle Dutch riif, Middle Low German rive "abundant, generous"), said to be from PIE root *rei- "to scratch, tear, cut" "The prevalence of the word in early southern texts is in favour of its being native in English, rather than an adoption from Scandinavian." [OED]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper