ri·​par·​i·​an | \ rə-ˈper-ē-ən How to pronounce riparian (audio) , rī- \

Definition of riparian

: relating to or living or located on the bank of a natural watercourse (such as a river) or sometimes of a lake or a tidewater riparian trees

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Did You Know?

Riparian came to English from the same source that gave us "river"—the Latin riparius, a noun deriving from ripa, meaning "bank" or "shore." First appearing in English in the 19th century, "riparian" refers to things that exist alongside a river (such as riparian wetlands, habitats, trees, etc.). Some river communities have laws called "riparian rights," referring to the rights of those owning land along a river to have access to the waterway. Note the distinction of this word from "littoral," which usually refers to things that occur along the shore of a sea or ocean.

Examples of riparian in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The Trump administration's change takes away federal protections for the vast majority of riparian areas that were previously regulated in Arizona, from arroyos to wetlands to desert washes. Ian James, The Arizona Republic, "Tribes, environmentalists sue to stop rollback of Clean Water Act protections," 23 June 2020 The habitat there is a mix of riparian corridors, rolling oak savanna, brush, and shrub species, as well as different conifers. The Editors, Field & Stream, "The Ultimate Guide to Hunting and Fishing Road Trips for Spring," 24 Feb. 2020 In the best cases, the various riparian countries sign treaties setting out how much water each will guarantee to the next. The Economist, "Water torture If China won’t build fewer dams, it could at least share information," 14 May 2020 More than a century ago, the delta spread across 1.9 million acres in a watery oasis of wetlands, riparian forests and marshes that teemed with fish, birds, beavers, deer, bobcats and jaguars. Ian James,, "How a trickle of water is breathing life into the parched Colorado River Delta," 19 Apr. 2020 Here, Paleozoic bluffs, limestone caves, forested ridges, and riparian wetlands provide an unmistakable contrast to the surrounding Plains. National Geographic, "White Sands is the newest national park. These places might be next.," 17 Jan. 2020 The Nile’s 11 riparian states vie with one another for the river’s water. Ethan D. Coffel, Quartz Africa, "Scientists predict more rain but less water for the millions of people in the Nile Basin," 14 Jan. 2020 The $15 million project by the National Park Service and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, completed in 2013, included rerouting the creek into the ocean and the reintroduction of native riparian plants. Peter Fimrite,, "Major push to save Muir Woods salmon run includes creek, habitat work," 10 Dec. 2019 Excellent turkey hunting can be found in riparian areas in South Texas. Matt Wyatt,, "Spring turkey outlook: Prime conditions mean thriving jakes," 12 Mar. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'riparian.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of riparian

1807, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for riparian

Latin riparius — more at river

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The first known use of riparian was in 1807

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Last Updated

29 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Riparian.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for riparian


ri·​par·​i·​an | \ rə-ˈper-ē-ən How to pronounce riparian (audio) \

Legal Definition of riparian

: of or relating to or living or located on the bank of a watercourse (as a river or stream) or sometimes a lake broadly : of or relating to or living or located on the bank of a body of water — compare littoral

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