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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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Definitions of riff from WordNet
1
riff (v.)
look through a book or other written material;
Synonyms: flick / flip / thumb / riffle / leaf
riff (v.)
play riffs;
2
riff (n.)
a jazz ostinato; usually provides a background for a solo improvisation;
3
Riff (n.)
a Berber living in northern Morocco;
Synonyms: Riffian
From wordnet.princeton.edu