Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
November 17th, 2014
Episode 21 of 797 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for November 17, 2014 is: rife \RYFE\ adjective 1 : prevalent especially to an increasing degree 2 : abundant, common 3 : copiously supplied : abounding Examples: After the newspaper's managing editor was fired, speculation was rife about who would replace him. "In the battle over Amendment 2, Drug Free Florida has decried the medical marijuana ballot initiative as being rife with loopholes." Dan Sweeney, The Sun-Sentinel (South Florida), October 15, 2014 Did you know? English is rife with words that have Germanic connections, many of which have been handed down to us from Old English. Rife is one of those words. Not a whole lot has changed with rife in its 900-year history. We continue to use the word, as we have since the 12th century, for negative things, especially those that are widespread or prevalent. Typical examples are "shoplifting was rife" or "the city was rife with greed and corruption." Rumors and speculation are also frequently described as "rife," as well. But rife can also be appropriately used, as it has been for hundreds of years, for good or neutral things. For example, you might speak of "the summer garden, rife with scents."