[ rift ]
See synonyms for: riftriftedrifting on Thesaurus.com

  1. an opening made by splitting, cleaving, etc.; fissure; cleft; chink.

  2. an open space, as in a forest or cloud mass, or a clear interval.

  1. a break in friendly relations: a rift between two people; a rift between two nations.

  2. a difference in opinion, belief, or interest that causes such a break in friendly relations.

  3. Geology.

    • a fault.

    • a graben of regional extent.

  4. the plane or direction along which a log or mass of granite can most easily be split.

  5. wood or a piece of wood that has been split radially from a log.

verb (used with or without object)
  1. to burst open; split.

Origin of rift

1250–1300; Middle English <Old Norse ript breaking of an agreement (compare Danish, Norwegian rift cleavage), derivative of rīfa to tear (cognate with rive)

Other words for rift

Other words from rift

  • riftless, adjective
  • un·rift·ed, adjective

Words that may be confused with rift

Words Nearby rift

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use rift in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for rift (1 of 2)


/ (rɪft) /

  1. a gap or space made by cleaving or splitting; fissure

  2. geology a long narrow zone of faulting resulting from tensional stress in the earth's crust

  1. a gap between two cloud masses; break or chink: he saw the sun through a rift in the clouds

  2. a break in friendly relations between people, nations, etc

  1. to burst or cause to burst open; split

Origin of rift

C13: from Old Norse; related to Danish rift cleft, Icelandic ript breach of contract

British Dictionary definitions for rift (2 of 2)


/ (rɪft) /

  1. a shallow or rocky part in a stream

  2. the backwash from a wave that has just broken

Origin of rift

C14: from Old Norse rypta; related to Icelandic ropa to belch

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

Scientific definitions for rift


[ rĭft ]

  1. A continental rift.

  2. A narrow break, crack, or other opening in a rock, usually made by cracking or splitting.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.