• rife •
raif • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: 1. Highly prevalent, occurring widely and profusely, filled with, packed with. 2. Occurring in great numbers over a wide area; superabundant, plentiful, abounding in.
Notes: As we will see in the Word History, today's Good Word is a genuine English word, not a borrowing, which means it is subject to the original English comparative forms, rifer and rifest. The adverb is rifely and the noun, rifeness, though they are rarely used.
In Play: Rifeness is usually a blessing: "The country markets are rife with freshly picked flowers and vegetables in the summer." But then rifeness can be a blessing or a curse: "My e-mail is so rife with spam I can barely get to the messages I want to read."
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 is always rife with excellent Good Word suggestions. Today's is no exception.)