[ rift ]
/ rɪft /


verb (used with or without object)

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)
Related formsrift·less, adjectiveun·rift·ed, adjective
Can be confusedriff rift
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for rift

British Dictionary definitions for rift (1 of 2)


/ (rɪft) /


a gap or space made by cleaving or splitting; fissure
geology a long narrow zone of faulting resulting from tensional stress in the earth's crust
a gap between two cloud masses; break or chinkhe saw the sun through a rift in the clouds
a break in friendly relations between people, nations, etc


to burst or cause to burst open; split

Word Origin for rift

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

British Dictionary definitions for rift (2 of 2)


/ (rɪft) /

noun US

a shallow or rocky part in a stream
the backwash from a wave that has just broken

Word Origin for 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

Word Origin and History for rift



early 14c., "a split, act of splitting," from a Scandinavian source (cf. Danish and Norwegian rift "a cleft," Old Icelandic ript (pronounced "rift") "breach;" related to Old Norse ripa "to break a contract" (see riven). Figurative use from 1620s. Geological sense from 1921. As a verb, c.1300.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Science definitions for rift


[ rĭft ]

A continental rift.
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.