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.
watercourse, waterway, stream, tributary, brook, inlet, rivulet, rill, runnel, streamlet, freshet; canal, channel; Scottish & Northern Englishburn; Northern Englishbeck; Southern Englishbourn; North American & Australian/New Zealandcreek; Australianbillabong
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.
cheat, trick, swindle, defraud, dupe, hoodwink; double-cross, betray, deceive, sell out, stab in the back; exploit, take advantage of
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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