[rif-uh l]
verb (used with or without object), rif·fled, rif·fling.
  1. to turn hastily; flutter and shift: to riffle a stack of letters; to riffle through a book.
  2. Cards. to shuffle by dividing the deck in two, raising the corners slightly, and allowing them to fall alternately together.
  3. to cause or become a riffle.
  1. a rapid, as in a stream.
  2. a ripple, as upon the surface of water.
  3. Mining. the lining of transverse bars or slats on the bed of a sluice, arranged so as to catch heavy minerals, as gold or platinum.
  4. a hopper for distributing bulk material.
  5. the act or method of riffling cards.

Origin of riffle

1630–40; blend of ripple1 and ruffle1
Related formsun·rif·fled, adjective
Can be confusedriffle rifle
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for riffling

Contemporary Examples of riffling

  • One must be careful in riffling through history to draw insights for policy-making going forward: the lessons don't always apply.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Absent American Pressure

    Ali Gharib

    September 17, 2012

Historical Examples of riffling

  • He had pulled a deck of cards from his hip pocket, and now was riffling them with pointed interest.

    Bred of the Desert

    Marcus Horton

  • It consists of riffling between the selected cards the proper number of indifferent ones.

    Sharps and Flats

    John Nevil Maskelyne

  • You could save a lot of time by taking carbon copies, suggested The Phantom, riffling the sheets lying beside the machine.

    The Gray Phantom

    Herman Landon

British Dictionary definitions for riffling


  1. (when intr , often foll by through) to flick rapidly through (the pages of a book, magazine, etc), esp in a desultory manner
  2. to shuffle (playing cards) by halving the pack and flicking the adjacent corners together
  3. to make or become a riffle
  1. US and Canadian
    1. a rapid in a stream
    2. a rocky shoal causing a rapid
    3. a ripple on water
  2. mining a contrivance on the bottom of a sluice, containing transverse grooves for trapping particles of gold
  3. the act or an instance of riffling

Word Origin for riffle

C18: probably from ruffle 1, influenced by ripple 1
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 riffling



1754, "to make choppy water," American English, perhaps a variant of ruffle "make rough." The word meaning "shuffle" (cards) is first recorded 1894, probably echoic; hence that of "skim, leaf through quickly" (of papers, etc.) is from 1922. Related: Riffled; riffling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper