rived ˈrīvd How to pronounce rive (audio) ; riven ˈri-vən How to pronounce rive (audio) also rived; riving ˈrī-viŋ How to pronounce rive (audio) ; rives

transitive verb

: to wrench open or tear apart or to pieces : rend
: to split with force or violence
: to divide into pieces or fractions
an organization being riven by controversy

intransitive verb

: to become split : crack
Choose the Right Synonym for rive

tear, rip, rend, split, cleave, rive mean to separate forcibly.

tear implies pulling apart by force and leaving jagged edges.

tear up the letter

rip implies a pulling apart in one rapid uninterrupted motion often along a line or joint.

ripped the shirt on a nail

rend implies very violent or ruthless severing or sundering.

an angry mob rent the prisoner's clothes

split implies a cutting or breaking apart in a continuous, straight, and usually lengthwise direction or in the direction of grain or layers.

split logs for firewood

cleave implies very forceful splitting or cutting with a blow.

a bolt of lightning cleaved the giant oak

rive occurs most often in figurative use.

a political party riven by conflict

Examples of rive in a Sentence

road pavement that had been riven by the annual freeze-and-thaw cycle the bitter disappointment threatened to rive my heart in two
Recent Examples on the Web The scenes of devastation in eastern Libya following catastrophic floods this week are eerily reminiscent of other moments of destruction in the country’s recent history — conflicts that left thousands of people dead and the country riven by political turmoil. Sarah Dadouch, Washington Post, 14 Sep. 2023 The challenge of retrieving the corpses is gargantuan in a country riven by two competing governments — one in the east, the other in the west — and beset by infrastructure hollowed out by more than a decade of a previous war. Nabih Bulos, Los Angeles Times, 14 Sep. 2023 Others have arrived under special programs the Biden administration has created for migrants from Haiti, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela — countries riven by political strife and economic breakdown. Mike Damiano, BostonGlobe.com, 8 Sep. 2023 At the death of King Kalakaua in 1891, the new queen, Liliuokalani, inheriting a kingdom riven by politics and disorder, requested the making of a new constitution in which the rights of native Hawaiians would be better protected. Time, 17 Aug. 2023 By the 1830s, the concert was riven by a cold war between its liberal and conservative members. Michael Beckley, Foreign Affairs, 22 Aug. 2023 In 1898, 33 years after the end of the Civil War, the Spanish-American War brought a sudden, unanticipated harmony and unity to a country that had been riven by war and a punitive postwar military occupation, which failed at wholesale societal reconstruction. Jim Webb, WSJ, 18 Aug. 2023 Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images Rawlins-Fernandez, who hails from the nearby island of Molokai, said the reasons many native Hawaiians are staying put instead of evacuating are both practical and rooted in a history riven by colonialism and land speculation. Jon Schuppe, NBC News, 16 Aug. 2023 Antakya might celebrate its religious diversity, but Turkey itself is riven by political ideologies under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and the earthquake region is no exception. Melanie Stetson Freeman, The Christian Science Monitor, 6 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'rive.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, from Old Norse rīfa; akin to Greek ereipein to tear down

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of rive was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near rive

Cite this Entry

“Rive.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rive. Accessed 28 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


rived ˈrīvd How to pronounce rive (audio) ; riven ˈriv-ən How to pronounce rive (audio) also rived; riving ˈrī-viŋ How to pronounce rive (audio)
: to tear apart
: to become split or cause to split

More from Merriam-Webster on rive

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