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

  • n. A firearm with a rifled bore, designed to be fired from the shoulder.
  • n. An artillery piece or naval gun with such spiral grooves.
  • n. Troops armed with rifles.
  • transitive v. To cut spiral grooves within (a gun barrel, for example).
  • transitive v. To search with intent to steal.
  • transitive v. To ransack or plunder; pillage.
  • transitive v. To rob: rifle a safe.
  • intransitive v. To search vigorously: rifling through my drawers to find matching socks.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A long firearm firing a single projectile, usually with a rifled barrel to improve accuracy.
  • v. to search with intent to steal; to ransack, pillage or plunder.
  • v. To add a spiral to the interior of a gun bore to make a fired bullet spin in flight to improve range and accuracy.
  • v. To strike something with great power.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A gun, the inside of whose barrel is grooved with spiral channels, thus giving the ball a rotary motion and insuring greater accuracy of fire. As a military firearm it has superseded the musket.
  • n. A body of soldiers armed with rifles.
  • n. A strip of wood covered with emery or a similar material, used for sharpening scythes.
  • intransitive v. To raffle.
  • intransitive v. To commit robbery.
  • transitive v. To seize and bear away by force; to snatch away; to carry off.
  • transitive v. To strip; to rob; to pillage.
  • transitive v. To raffle.
  • transitive v. To grove; to channel; especially, to groove internally with spiral channels.
  • transitive v. To whet with a rifle. See Rifle, n., 3.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To seize and bear away by force; snatch away.
  • To rob; plunder; pillage: often followed by of.
  • To raffle; dispose of in a raffle.
  • To commit robbery or theft.
  • To raffle; play at dice or some other game of chance wherein the winner secures stakes previously agreed upon.
  • In gun-making, to cut spiral grooves in (the bore of a gun-barrel).
  • To whet, as a scythe, with a rifle.
  • To groove firearms spirally along the interior of the bore.
  • n. A firearm or a piece of ordnance having a barrel (or barrels) with a spirally grooved bore.
  • n. A soldier armed with a rifle: so named at a time when the rifle was not the usual weapon of the infantry: as, the Royal Irish Rifles—that is, the 83d and 86th regiments of British infantry.
  • n. A bent stick standing on the butt of the handle of a scythe.
  • n. An instrument used after the manner of a whetstone for sharpening scythes, and consisting of a piece of wood coated with sharp sand or emery, with a handle at one end.

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

  • v. steal goods; take as spoils
  • v. go through in search of something; search through someone's belongings in an unauthorized way
  • n. a shoulder firearm with a long barrel and a rifled bore


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

From rifle, to cut spiral grooves in, from French rifler, from Old French, to plunder, scratch; see rifle2.
Middle English riflen, to plunder, from Old French rifler, probably of Germanic origin.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Middle English, from Old French rifler ("to scrape off, plunder"), from Old Low Franconian *riffilōn (compare obsolete Dutch rijffelen 'to scrape', Old English geriflian ("to wrinkle"), Middle High German riffeln ("to scratch, heckle (flax)"), Old High German riffilōn ("to saw, rub apart")), frequentative of Proto-Germanic *rīfanan (compare Old Norse rifa ("to tear, break")). More at rive.


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