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river Line breaks: river
Pronunciation: /ˈrɪvə/

Definition of river in English:


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.


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.


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.
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.


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

  • River comes from the same root at rival. To sell someone down the river is to betray them, especially to benefit yourself. The expression refers to the slave-owning period of American history. It was the custom to sell troublesome slaves to owners of sugar-cane plantations on the lower Mississippi, where conditions were harsher than those in the more northerly slave-owning states. The first recorded use is in 1851 by the American writer Harriet Beecher Stowe, whose best-known work is the anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852). The ‘betray’ sense did not emerge until much later, in the 1920s, perhaps because the subject was too sensitive to be used casually. In the USA someone who has been sent up the river is in prison. The phrase originally referred to Sing Sing prison, which is situated up the Hudson River from the city of New York.

Words that rhyme with river

aquiver, downriver, forgiver, giver, quiver, shiver, sliver, upriver
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