- 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 riffMore 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 amuseMore 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 himMore 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 economyMore 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.
1930s: perhaps an abbreviation of refrain2.
More definitions of riffDefinition of riff in:
- The British & World English dictionary