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riff

Syllabification: riff

Definition of riff in English:

noun

1(In popular music and jazz) a short repeated phrase, frequently played over changing chords or harmonies or used as a background to a solo improvisation: a brilliant guitar riff
More example sentences
  • Catchy, jangly guitar riffs are slung about violently.
  • He manufactures catchy guitar riffs with ease, and blends them with off-beat lyrics.
  • They played the opening riff for a while, until Rocky tried a solo.
1.1A monologue or spoken improvisation, especially a humorous one, on a particular subject: subsequent riffs on the same themes fail to amuse
More example sentences
  • "Detective work," someone mutters to an eager graduate student in A. S. Byatt's latest fictional riff on things Victorian.
  • Her conversations are never completed, her ideas left unexplored, and her truths half spoken while Hatanaka indulges in another riff about the story.
  • A personification of the bomb appears near the end, portrayed by Sotor's cousin, in a satirical riff off an old cliché Sotor rewrote himself.

verb

[no object] Back to top  
1Play musical riffs: the other horns would be riffing behind him
More example sentences
  • Gone are the wacky keyboard lines, the chunky punk ‘n’ metal riffing and polka/ska passages that have made this band a Canadian legend.
  • Steve Wilson's vibes are deep in the rhythm section's pocket, riffing or firing off spare, hanging chords.
  • Often times, Simmons' band sounds remarkably like the traditional Coltrane quartet, with pianist John Hicks riffing off propulsive drummer, James Zitro.
1.1Perform a monologue or spoken improvisation on a particular subject: he also riffs on racism and the economy
More example sentences
  • Speaking of Chinese translations, Harper's Magazine, once published a list of Chinese books riffing on Johnson's earlier classic.
  • The issue's highlight, however, is an inspired fashion spread riffing on the 1998 Danish film, The Celebration.
  • Sullivan excels at punditry, happily riffing off the news or essaying exuberantly off the top of his head.

Origin

1930s: perhaps an abbreviation of refrain2.

Definition of riff in:

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Pronunciation: dʒɔːnt
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a short excursion or journey made for pleasure