1. an opening made by splitting, cleaving, etc.; fissure; cleft; chink.
  2. an open space, as in a forest or cloud mass, or a clear interval.
  3. a break in friendly relations: a rift between two people; a rift between two nations.
  4. a difference in opinion, belief, or interest that causes such a break in friendly relations.
  5. Geology.
    1. a fault.
    2. a graben of regional extent.
  6. the plane or direction along which a log or mass of granite can most easily be split.
  7. wood or a piece of wood that has been split radially from a log.

verb (used with or without object)

  1. to burst open; split.


  1. a gap or space made by cleaving or splitting; fissure
  2. geology a long narrow zone of faulting resulting from tensional stress in the earth’s crust
  3. a gap between two cloud masses; break or chinkhe saw the sun through a rift in the clouds
  4. a break in friendly relations between people, nations, etc


  1. to burst or cause to burst open; split

noun US

  1. a shallow or rocky part in a stream
  2. the backwash from a wave that has just broken

early 14c., “a split, act of splitting,” from a Scandinavian source (cf. Danish and Norwegian rift “a cleft,” Old Icelandic ript (pronounced “rift”) “breach;” related to Old Norse ripa “to break a contract” (see riven). Figurative use from 1620s. Geological sense from 1921. As a verb, c.1300.

  1. A continental rift.
  2. A narrow break, crack, or other opening in a rock, usually made by cracking or splitting.

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