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
A segment of a song that puts emphasis on a certain instrument by using a distinctive sound. The instrument is usually a guitar.
The main guitar riff in Tool's "Third Eye" is 1 minute and 3 seconds long
by icallit_tacoisland September 24, 2005
Plain and simply: Selected guitar melodies.


HORNS UP! ^nn^
KEEP IT SICK AND BRUTAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Black Sabbath: IRON MAN!!!!!!!!!!!
The latter encompasses one of the catchiest riffs ever created.
by Dimmu80 February 09, 2004
Riffing is not only a musical term rooted in Jazz but also a comedic term.

In common usage the term Jazz has not only several denotations but it also has several connotations: Jazz sometimes denotes an elaboration of something: To take something and elementally mix it up in such a way as to improve upon it.

"I bought an old car and jazzed it up."
"If you want to sell it, you'll need to jazz it up."
Jazz also has negative connotations:
"I slipped climbing into the truck and jazzed up my knee."
"The divorce jazzed up my whole life."

Say you had a Jazz quartet; a bass fiddle, a drummer, a sax, and a guitar. They can take a very old and very familiar tune and jazz it as a group to the point of being practically unrecognizable. Or, they do solo riffs on the melody. This is not a true solo, as, in turns, the musicians increase the volume of what they are playing while the others fade in volume and maintain the basic melody and beat. To riff then, is to touch upon a thing (in this case a melody) and depart from it to the point where it is unrecognizable by itself. Riffing is to touch lightly upon a thing only to depart from it.

Late-night talk show hosts and stand-up comics do topical or celebrity riffs. They may touch lightly upon an issue but quickly depart from it just for comic effect. They do not address or critique the issue or personality in question directly in a sober, mature or scholarly manner; instead they use it as a springboard to say something silly or irrelevant.

I got an email the other day containing an obviously doctored image of President Obama depicted as a Communist Witch Doctor. While the image visually riffs on his being of African heritage and a liberal politician, it does nothing to directly address his national health care policy proposals.
"I can riff on this all day but that doesn't solve the basic problem."
by Twentiethman August 05, 2009
Incredibly cool; a combination of "rad " (see: "rad") and kiff (ditto "kiff).
Dude, that air was so epic, it was like the Great Barrier Riff, man!
by Commonwealthy April 22, 2015
A non-rural redneck, likely from the Oregon Hill, lakeside, Grace Street or Jeff Davis corridor neighborhoods in Richmond Virginia.

Also:
An acronym for the 'Reading is Fundamental' program started by Eastern US. libraries in the 1970's. The 'R.I.F. Mobile' was a mobile library inside of a bus or van that carried books to kids in underprivileged neighborhoods.
"You wont frigging believe what Mickey the Riff did this time"
"Hey man, those Riff Kids have been scoping out your bike"
by paintwagon July 23, 2009
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

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