Etymology
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riffle (v.)

1754, "to make choppy water," American English, perhaps a variant of ruffle "make rough." The word meaning "shuffle" (cards) is recorded by 1894, perhaps echoic; hence "skim, leaf through quickly" (of papers, etc.), by 1922. The noun meaning "rapid formed by a rocky obstruction in the bed of a river" is by 1785. Related: Riffled; riffling.

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riff (n.)

"a repeated melodic phrase in jazz," 1935 (but said to have been used by musicians since c. 1917), of uncertain origin, perhaps a shortened form of riffle, or altered from refrain. The verb is attested by 1942, from the noun. Also in transferred or extended use (by 1970). Related: Riffed; riffing.

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