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midriff (n.)

Old English midhrif "diaphragm of a human or animal," from mid "mid" (from PIE root *medhyo- "middle") + hrif "belly," from Proto-Germanic *hrefin (source also of Old High German href, Old Frisian hrif, -rith, -rede "belly"). Compare Old Frisian midrede "diaphragm." Watkins has this from PIE root *kwrep- "body, form, appearance;" Boutkan has it from *sker- (1) "to cut."

More or less obsolete after 18c. except in phrase to tickle (one's) midriff "to cause laughter;" the word revived 1941 in fashion usage for "portion of a woman's garment that covers the belly," as a euphemistic avoidance of belly; sense inverted and extended 1970 to a belly-baring style of women's top.

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Definitions of midriff from WordNet

midriff (n.)
the middle area of the human torso (usually in front);
young American women believe that a bare midriff is fashionable
Synonyms: middle / midsection
midriff (n.)
(anatomy) a muscular partition separating the abdominal and thoracic cavities; functions in respiration;
Synonyms: diaphragm
From wordnet.princeton.edu