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adjective Chiefly Northern and North Midland U.S.
  1. turbid; roily.
  2. angry; vexed.
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Origin of riley

An Americanism dating back to 1795–1805; rile + -y1


  1. James Whit·comb [hwit-kuh m, wit-] /ˈʰwɪt kəm, ˈwɪt-/, 1849–1916, U.S. poet.
  2. life of. life of Riley.
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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for riley


  1. Bridget (Louise). born 1931, English painter, best known for her black-and-white op art paintings of the 1960s
  2. Gina . born 1961, Australian television actress and writer, best known for playing 'Kim' in the comedy series Kath & Kim (2002–07)
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  1. the life of Riley a luxurious and carefree existence
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Word Origin

C20: origin unknown
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

Idioms and Phrases with riley


see life of riley.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.