When I first saw today’s one-word prompt, “riff,” the term “riffraff” popped into my head. But riff and riffraff are not even close in meaning. Riffraff are people regarded as disreputable or worthless; members of the lowest classes. Or as Trump and his billionaire cronies might say, the hoi polloi.
Then I thought of the word “rift,” which can either be an opening made by splitting, cleaving, etc., or a break in friendly relations, as in a rift between two old friends. Nope, a riff and a rift are not the same thing.
That got me to the word “tiff.” A tiff is a slight or petty quarrel or a word used to react someone who may be in a bad mood, as in he’s in a tiff about the rain on his parade. I guess a tiff can result in a rift, but not in a riff.
Since none of these other words is what a “riff” is, I knew I had to think harder. So I got out of bed, took a leak, and started brushing my teeth when it finally hit me.
Riff, as in guitar riff. Like what Eric Clapton, one of my all time favorite rock guitarists, does so incredibly well.
But the word riff is actually more versatile than just a musical solo improvisation on a guitar or other musical instrument. It can also be a rapid, energetic, often improvised verbal outpouring such as one might hear as part of a comic performance.
I would probably choose the word “rant,” rather than “riff,” to describe such a comic outpouring, but that’s just me.
Okay, this is the end of my rant on the word riff.