from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A rocky shoal or sandbar lying just below the surface of a waterway.
  • n. A stretch of choppy water caused by such a shoal or sandbar; a rapid.
  • n. In mining, the sectional stone or wood bottom lining of a sluice, arranged for trapping mineral particles, as of gold.
  • n. A groove or block in such a lining.
  • n. Games The act or an instance of shuffling cards.
  • transitive v. Games To shuffle (playing cards) by holding part of a deck in each hand and raising up the edges before releasing them to fall alternately in one stack.
  • transitive v. To thumb through (the pages of a book, for example).
  • intransitive v. Games To shuffle cards.
  • intransitive v. To become choppy, as water.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A fast-flowing, shallow part of a stream causing broken water.
  • n. A succession of small waves.
  • n. A trough or sluice having cleats, grooves, or steps across the bottom for holding quicksilver and catching particles of gold when auriferous earth is washed. Also one of the cleats, grooves or steps in such trough.
  • n. A quick skim through the pages of a book.
  • n. The act of shuffling cards; the sound made while shuffling cards.
  • v. To flow over a fast moving shallow part of a stream.
  • v. To ruffle with a rippling action.
  • v. To skim or flick through the pages of a book.
  • v. To leaf through rapidly.
  • v. To shuffle playing cards by separating the deck in two and sliding the thumbs along the edges of the cards to mix the two parts.
  • v. To idly manipulate objects with the fingers.
  • v. To prepare samples of material using a riffler.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A trough or sluice having cleats, grooves, or steps across the bottom for holding quicksilver and catching particles of gold when auriferous earth is washed; also, one of the cleats, grooves, or steps in such a trough. Also called ripple.
  • n. A ripple in a stream or current of water; also, a place where the water ripples, as on a shallow rapid.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To shuffle a pack of cards by butting the two parts of the pack into each other and then bending them so that they slip together.
  • n. In mining, the lining of the bottom of a sluice, made of blocks or slats of wood, or stones, arranged in such a manner that chinks are left open between them.
  • n. A piece of plank placed transversely in, and fastened to the bottom of, a fish-ladder.
  • n. In seal-engraving, a very small iron disk at the end of a tool, used to develop a high polish.
  • n. A ripple, as upon the surface of water; hence, a rapid; a place in a stream where a swift current, striking upon rocks, produces a boiling motion in the water.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. stir up (water) so as to form ripples
  • n. shuffling by splitting the pack and interweaving the two halves at their corners
  • v. shuffle (playing cards) by separating the deck into two parts and riffling with the thumbs so the cards intermix
  • v. look through a book or other written material
  • n. a small wave on the surface of a liquid
  • v. twitch or flutter


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Possibly blend of ripple1 and ruffle1.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Possible alteration of ruffle, from Middle English ruffelen, akin to Low German ruffelen ("to crumple")


  • The standard way to mix a deck of playing cards—the one used everywhere from casinos to rec rooms—is what is known as a riffle or "dovetail" shuffle.

    Pick a Card, Any Card

  • And he would smile and say, “Your riffle is imperfect.”

    A Bland and Deadly Courtesy

  • I will stick to the 12 gauge and bolt riffle, that is my comfort zone.

    F&S Picks the 25 Best AR-Style Rifles

  • The pirogue was still quite firmly settled into the Missouri mud, though in fact it was no worse off than the steamer, grounded for the night on what the river men called a riffle, or sandbar.

    The Berrybender Narratives

  • Underneath this colander-like portion of the long-tom is placed another trough, about ten feet long, the sides six inches, perhaps, in height, which, divided through the middle by a slender slat, is called the riffle-box.

    The Shirley Letters from California Mines in 1851-52

  • Two strips of wood, about an inch square, called riffle-bars, were nailed across the bottom of the cradle-box, one at the middle and the other near the lower end.

    The Cave of Gold A Tale of California in '49

  • Then it became clear that here is a key to the phenomena of atmospheric circulation, from the great polar-equatorial maelstrom which manifests itself in the trade-winds to the most circumscribed riffle which is announced as a local storm.

    A History of Science: in Five Volumes. Volume III: Modern development of the physical sciences

  • Jimmie carried the 'riffle' referred to in Cecelia Anne's text and a handful of blank cartridges.

    New Faces

  • Our plan was to cross the 200 yards of the Potomac at this point, following the upstream edge of the line of rocks forming the "riffle" seen here.

    behind AotW

  • "riffle," or rapid, where the stream ran very fiercely, with great swirls and waves in it, and the captain sang out to the engineer, "How much steam have you, Jack?"

    A Tramp's Notebook


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  • The sluice box with bars on the floor to trap gold. One of the bars. A riffle box.

    January 28, 2011

  • Often confused with "rifle," which is improper, colloquial usage.

    August 3, 2008

  • shallow rapids in an open stream

    March 6, 2008