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[klif] /klɪf/
a high steep face of a rock.
a critical point or situation beyond which something bad or undesirable may occur:
The committee is right up to the cliff with no deal in sight.
Origin of cliff
before 900; Middle English clif, Old English, cognate with Dutch, Low German, Old Norse klif
Related forms
clifflike, adjective
1. bluff, promontory, ledge, crag.


[klif] /klɪf/
a male given name, form of Clifford or Clifton. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for cliff
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He tottered, reeled, stepped backward, and fell over the brink of the cliff.

    The Lance of Kanana Harry W. French
  • The savage grandeur of ocean and cliff no longer oppressed their spirits.

    The Northern Iron George A. Birmingham
  • He, too, had striven to wrest the treasure from the stone by driving a tunnel into the cliff.

  • He then with noiseless tread ascended the cliff behind them.

  • A shallow grave was dug in the soft earth at the foot of the cliff, and the melancholy remnant of humanity was lifted into it.

British Dictionary definitions for cliff


a steep high rock face, esp one that runs along the seashore and has the strata exposed
Derived Forms
cliffy, adjective
Word Origin
Old English clif; related to Old Norse kleif, Middle Low German klēf, Dutch klif; see cleave²
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for cliff

Old English clif "rock, promontory, steep slope," from Proto-Germanic *kliban (cf. Old Saxon clif, Old Norse klif, Middle Dutch klippe, Dutch klip, Old High German klep, German Klippe "cliff, promontory, steep rock").

Clift has been a variant spelling since 15c. and was common in early Modern English, influenced by or merged with clift, a variant of cleft (n.). Cliff-dweller first attested 1889, American English.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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