• (British) IPA: /ɹaɪf/

rife (comparative rifer, superlative rifest)

  1. Widespread, common, prevalent, current (mainly of unpleasant or harmful things).
    Smallpox was rife after the siege had been lifted.
    • Before the plague of London, inflammations of the lungs were rife and mortal.
    • 1634 October 9 (first performance), [John Milton], H[enry] Lawes, editor, A Maske Presented at Ludlow Castle, 1634: […] [Comus], London: Printed [by Augustine Matthews] for Hvmphrey Robinson, […], published 1637, OCLC 228715864 ↗; reprinted as Comus: […] (Dodd, Mead & Company’s Facsimile Reprints of Rare Books; Literature Series; no. I), New York, N.Y.: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1903, OCLC 1113942837 ↗:
      The tumult of loud mirth was rife.
    • 1900, Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams, Avon Books, (translated by James Strachey) pg. 170:
      The 'denominational considerations' mentioned below relate, of course, to anti-Semitic feeling, which was already rife in Vienna during the last years of the nineteenth century.
  2. Abounding; present in large numbers, plentiful.
    These woodlands are rife with red deer.
    Watermelons are rife with seeds.
  3. Full of (mostly unpleasant or harmful things).
    Many post-colonial governments were rife with lawlessness and corruption.
    • 2013, Daniel Taylor, Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic climbs highest to sink Benfica (in The Guardian, 15 May 2013)
      They will have to reflect on a seventh successive defeat in a European final while Chelsea try to make sense of an eccentric season rife with controversy and bad feeling but once again one finishing on an exhilarating high.
  4. (obsolete) Having power; active; nimble.
    • What! I am rife a little yet.
Synonyms Translations Translations Adverb


  1. Plentifully, abundantly.
    The snowdrops grow rife on the slopes of Mount Pembroke.

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