Definition of river in English:


Line breaks: river
Pronunciation: /ˈrɪvə


1A large natural stream of water flowing in a channel to the sea, a lake, or another river: the River Danube the Mekong River [as modifier]: river pollution
More example sentences
  • Global warming could devastate lakes, streams, rivers and wetlands throughout the United States.
  • In river valleys, water that seeps from canals and fields provides groundwater that can be pumped for various purposes or the water may return to rivers through streams or creeks.
  • Water can be obtained from streams, rivers, lakes, or underground aquifers, which are used to supply private wells and public drinking water.
canal, channel;
Scottish & Northern English burn;
Northern English beck;
Southern English bourn;
North American & Australian/New Zealand creek;
Australian billabong
rare rillet
1.1A large quantity of a flowing substance: great rivers of molten lava
More example sentences
  • The young man was sweating profusely; rivers of it were flowing down his pale face.
  • I proceeded along the jagged ridges staring down into a river of a boiling red substance.
  • There I am running rivers of sweat down my neck, down my chest, down my belly and through my shirt, and I'm dancing harder than I've ever danced to a rock band.
1.2Used in names of animals and plants living in or associated with rivers, e.g. river dolphin.


Middle English: from Anglo-Norman French, based on Latin riparius, from ripa 'bank of a river'.


sell someone down the river

informal Betray someone, especially so as to benefit oneself: he said they were management lackeys who had been sold down the river by Bunker
[earlier referring to the sale of a troublesome slave to the owner of a sugar-cane plantation on the lower Mississippi, where conditions were relatively harsher]
More example sentences
  • Staff feel they have been sold down the river by the Government.
  • And they say they feel they have been sold down the river by their union leaders, who last week accepted a pay settlement involving changes in shift patterns and working practices.
  • He has sold us down the river and made our democracy a joke.
double-cross, betray, deceive, sell out, stab in the back;
informal do, con, take for a ride, sell, diddle, bamboozle, finagle, bilk, rip off, fleece

up the river

North American informal To or in prison: we were lucky not to be sent up the river that time boy
[with allusion to Sing Sing prison, situated up the Hudson River from the city of New York]
More example sentences
  • You're indicted, convicted and sent up the river.
  • Let me be on record as being strongly opposed to sending Limbaugh up the river, even though that is the penalty he wished to inflict on others.
  • They're sent up the river for ‘life,’ having all the time in the world to spend together.



More example sentences
  • All Night Radio serve up an escapist's reminder that spring is fast approaching, and we always need music for open windows, top-down convertibles and misty drives on roads rivered with melted snow.
  • His bloated face was rivered with veins, like raspberry ripple ice-cream.


More example sentences
  • But, so far as we could discover, the land was riverless, and eternal frost prevailed.
  • O'Connor saw for himself the arid, riverless country through which the new railway line from Northam must pass.

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