verb (used with object), riled, ril·ing. Chiefly Northern and North Midland U.S.

to irritate or vex.
to roil (water or the like).

Origin of rile

First recorded in 1815–25; variant of roil

Synonyms for rile Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for riling

Contemporary Examples of riling

  • Almost every aspect of the SarcMark succeeded in riling one commentator or another.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Rise and Fall of the Infamous SarcMark

    Keith Houston

    September 24, 2013

  • The biggest political book of the season is riling up both sides of the pond.

    The Daily Beast logo
    11 Revelations From Blair's Memoir

    The Daily Beast

    September 1, 2010

  • Palin could play a similar role in the 2012 primaries, riling up the base while appalling moderates and independents.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Run, Sarah, Run!

    Michelle Goldberg

    July 23, 2009

Historical Examples of riling

  • We didn't let 'em know; we just 'peared, and walked past the house, riling them.

  • I've warned you against her a dozen times, Miss Marvin, but that's what you get for riling a jealous woman!

    For Gold or Soul?

    Lurana W. Sheldon

  • It is sad to think that some carping critic had been riling the sweet soul of Nathan in the year 1732.

    The Galaxy


  • Togo was forward, amid crude surroundings, riling the brakemen with his disgusted disdain.

    The Book of Susan

    Lee Wilson Dodd

  • Their Junkers, like ours, had drunk to The Day; and they should not have let us choose it after riling us for so many years.

British Dictionary definitions for riling


verb (tr)

to annoy or anger; irritate
US and Canadian to stir up or agitate (water, etc); roil or make turbid

Word Origin for rile

C19: variant of roil
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 riling



1825, American English spelling alteration to reflect a dialectal pronunciation of roil (q.v.); cf. heist from hoist and in the same era spile for spoil (v.). Bartlett writes that in both England and America roil "is now commonly pronounced and written rile" ["Dictionary of Americanisms," 1848]. Related: Riled; riling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper