an opening made by splitting, cleaving, etc.; fissure; cleft; chink.
an open space, as in a forest or cloud mass, or a clear interval.
a break in friendly relations: a rift between two people; a rift between two nations.
a difference in opinion, belief, or interest that causes such a break in friendly relations.
a fault.
a graben of regional extent.
the plane or direction along which a log or mass of granite can most easily be split.
wood or a piece of wood that has been split radially from a log.
verb (used with object), verb (used without object)
to burst open; split.

1250–1300; Middle English < Old Norse ript breaking of an agreement (compare Danish, Norwegian rift cleavage), derivative of rīfa to tear (cognate with rive)

riftless, adjective
unrifted, adjective

riff, rift.

3. breach, rupture, estrangement, falling-out.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
rift1 (rɪft)
1.  a gap or space made by cleaving or splitting; fissure
2.  geology a long narrow zone of faulting resulting from tensional stress in the earth's crust
3.  a gap between two cloud masses; break or chink: he saw the sun through a rift in the clouds
4.  a break in friendly relations between people, nations, etc
5.  to burst or cause to burst open; split
[C13: from Old Norse; related to Danish rift cleft, Icelandic ript breach of contract]

rift2 (rɪft)
1.  a shallow or rocky part in a stream
2.  the backwash from a wave that has just broken
[C14: from Old Norse rypta; related to Icelandic ropa to belch]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

c.1300, from a Scand. source (cf. Dan., Norw. rift "a cleft," O.Icel. ript (pronounced "rift") "breach;" related to O.N. ripa "to break a contract" (see riven).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
rift   (rĭft)  Pronunciation Key 
  1. A continental rift.

  2. A narrow break, crack, or other opening in a rock, usually made by cracking or splitting.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
Ten million years from now the entire rift may be submerged.
The small lake sits in the slightly elongate rift area where the eruption
The crisis has caused a rift in the hitherto friendly relations between the two
As the two sides of a rift valley diverge, the valley eventually falls below
  sea level and floods.
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