Know your words

Rifle / Riffle

Know Your Words

Certain sets of words in the English language tend to confuse writers. I have found the following to be among them:

RIFLE / RIFFLE

We are all familiar with the noun rifle, a type of firearm, but what about the verb rifle? And when does the verb riffle come into play?

The verb rifle with which we are concerned here means to ransack or plunder; the related verb riffle, often used with the preposition through, means to hastily search or skim, as in he riffled through the pages of the book in search of a map of the Mediterranean.

Incorrect:  The burglar riffled the drawer, looking for cash.

Correct: The burglar rifled the drawer, looking for cash.

Incorrect: She rifled the pages of her diary, looking for the flower she had pressed there years ago.

Correct: She riffled the pages of her diary, looking for the flower she had pressed there years ago.

© 2018 Ann Henry. All Rights Reserved.

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