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.

before 900; Middle English clif, Old English, cognate with Dutch, Low German, Old Norse klif

clifflike, adjective

1. bluff, promontory, ledge, crag. Unabridged


a male given name, form of Clifford or Clifton. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
cliff (klɪf)
a steep high rock face, esp one that runs along the seashore and has the strata exposed
[Old English clif; related to Old Norse kleif, Middle Low German klēf, Dutch klif; see cleave²]

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

O.E. clif, from P.Gmc. *kliban, perhaps from PIE base *gleibh- "to adhere, be attached."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Britannica


steep slope of earth materials, usually a rock face, that is nearly vertical and may be overhanging. Structural cliffs may form as the result of fault displacement or the resistance of a cap rock to uniform downcutting. Erosional cliffs form along shorelines or valley walls where the most extensive erosion takes place at the base of the slope. Because of their greater gradient, cliffs are subjected to greater erosive action and tend to retreat more rapidly than other slopes.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
Now pharmaceutical firms are beginning to careen off the patent cliff.
If nothing makes you happier than to be scaling a cliff face, rock climb.
Cliff himself is crying as soon as we're out the door.
Out came the vertebrae, pelvic bones, and-one by one-a series of ribs deeply
  embedded in the cliff side.
Image for cliff
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