In music a riff is a repeated instrumental melody in a song like that catchy guitar lick from Black Sabbath's "Iron Man." It also means to improvise in your performance, esp. by expanding on something recognizable. So another artist might start with Sabbath's "Iron Man" melody at a live show and then take it in completely different direction.

"Man that's a sick guitar riff in that Metallica song Enter Sandman"

"I saw this great improv jazz band that could really riff."

The term is also often used to describe inspiration and improvisation in other things like acting, comedy, dancing, drawing, djing/scratching etc.

a b-boy might say, "So, I was breakin with Jamil the other day and was feelin what he was doin so I started riffin off his style and adding some new flava to it. I vibed off his uprock but threw in some popping and dropped down to a wind mill...It was dope."
an mc might say, "Yo me and my boy were in a cipher last night and we just started to riff off each other, we were just lettin it flow back and forth, ya know what I'm sayin."
by mockarena April 16, 2009
Top Definition
A select tune or Melody of a guitar tab in a song, like in AC/DC's "Back in black" the little tune that gets stuck in your head, is a RIFF
Jimmy Page can throw down some COMPLICATED INSANE AND FAST RIFFS
by Bock October 04, 2003
Something that nu metal bands can't seem to use with good effect.
no needed
by Mike B July 02, 2003
1. Music, mainly guitar: A musical phrase based on or around musical scales*. Riffs can be pre-prepared and repeated, or improvised on the spot and of indefinite length based loosly around the melody of the song.

Scales are a way of arranging musical notes so that they a cool to listen to. Basic scales for guitar include:


2.There is also an Arabic people called Riffs.
The lights went down and the lead guitarist then played a long, slow, sweet blues based riff that had the hairs standing up on the back of peoples necks.
by Blue Cawdrey November 23, 2004
West Midlands insult similar to chav. Origins are uncertain but it is thought to be an abbreviation of the phrase riff-raff, and localised use in Bromsgrove dates back as far as the late 1980s, if not earlier

Can be both a noun (riff), referring to the antisocial underclass, or an adjective (riffy), meaning something cheap, scummy or gully gully.
- "What a riff!"
- "He was the riffiest kid in school."
- "Those trainers are well riffy."
- "I'm a riffy stig."
by Creese April 15, 2008
Riff (verb, -riffed, -rif⋅fing. Informal): The art and science of making fun of low budget B-Movies by making snide and/or sarcastic comments (regarding the poor quality of the film's dialogue, acting, plot, shoddy film design, etc...) at the movie or television screen while the movie is running in the background. The comedy can be either high brow and esoteric or low brow and of the bodily branded humor.
The comic geniuses of MST3k brutally riffed upon the B-Movie schlock sci-fi/horror film "The Giant Spider Invasion." (1975) I don't know if the director was here to witness them shredding his movie, would he cry with shame or laugh until he peed his pants.
by Tsarstepan January 09, 2010
Acronym for "Rowing Is For Fags". Used in short form to confuse and mislead people who see this written on any rowing paraphernalia, often to make them believe it stands for "Rowing Is For Fun".

Note: Rowers came up with this acronym
Heading: "We won the champ 8+ at Henley!... Whatever, RIFF"
by RIFF99 July 26, 2011
To make stuff up on the spot.
Can be applied to nearly anything--music, writing, lying, whatever.
I riffed up an excuse as to why I didn't show up... she laid off eventually.
by Logical Dash August 08, 2005

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