1. a body partition of muscle and connective tissue; specifically : the partition separating the chest and abdominal cavities in mammals : diaphragm;
2. the mid-region of the human torso;
3a. a section of a woman’s garment that covers the midriff;
b. a woman’s garment that exposes the midriff.

1. Even the store’s winter line of clothing includes a number of midriff-baring tops, albeit paired with oversized cardigans or flannel shirts.
2. “I especially liked one of Barbie’s one-piece swimsuits with a hippie-era flower motif on the midriff.” — From an article by Doug MacCash in the Times-Picayune (New Orleans), August 15, 2013.

“Midriff” is now most commonly encountered in the mid-torso or clothing-related senses. These senses are relatively young, having appeared, respectively, in the early 19th and mid-20th centuries. For most of its history, however, “midriff” has been used to refer to the diaphragm (a large flat muscle separating the lungs from the stomach area). The diaphragm sense has been with us since the earliest known use of “midriff” in Bald’s Leechbook, an Old English medical manuscript that is believed to date back to the 9th century. The “riff” in “midriff” comes from Old English “hrif” (“belly, womb”). “Hrif” is akin to Old High German “href” (“womb”) and probably also to Latin “corpus” (“body”).


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