• rife •
Pronunciation: rayf • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: 1. Abundant in large quantity or numbers. 2. Ubiquitous, appearing everywhere, prevalent.
Notes: This word is suggestive of ripe enough that we should beware of confusing the two. The only directly related words are rifeness, the noun, and rifely, the adverb.
In Play: The two meanings of today's Good Word can be combined to refer to a large amount found everywhere: "The world is rife with aimless sinners." However, rife is almost always used in reference to an abstraction rather than to a concrete object: "To the astonishment of all concerned, the fire house turned out to be rife with fire code violations."
Word History: Today's Good Word is a rarity: it is a native English word. It goes back to Old English ryfe and seems to be related to words in other Germanic languages, like Modern Swedish river "to demolish" and Norwegian riv. However, it clearly is not borrowed from any Scandinavian language since the meanings are not close enough. (Dr. Lyn Laboriel's mind is always rife with excellent Good Word suggestions. Today's is no exception.)
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- Grand Panjandrum
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