noun, often attributive
riv·​er | \ ˈri-vər How to pronounce river (audio) \

Definition of river

1a : a natural stream of water of usually considerable volume
2a : something resembling a river a river of lava
b rivers plural : large or overwhelming quantities drank rivers of coffee
up the river
: to or in prison was sent up the river

Examples of river in a Sentence

The raft is too small to use on this part of the river. Rivers of mud flowed down the hillside.

Recent Examples on the Web

His sister is a smart square peg who took off running at the end of Season 3; in the new season, the family is trying to find her, a trip that takes them to a Tibetan lamasery, down South American rivers and onto a Japanese game show. Robert Lloyd, latimes.com, "‘The Detour's’ Jason Jones on how the family that strays together stays crazy-sweet grounded," 8 July 2019 High snowmelt has made rivers and stream especially dangerous this year, and state officials are urging people to use caution when going in the water. Carina Julig, The Denver Post, "Man who died in Dinosaur National Monument rafting accident identified," 7 July 2019 But south of the river and especially south of the municipal pier, the beaches are mostly bare except for a narrow line of cobblestones. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Group faces uphill battle to get sand-retaining groins on Oceanside beaches," 7 July 2019 Police in Pennsylvania are investigating after the bodies of a husband and wife were pulled from a Philadelphia river and a child was found in a nearby car, according to reports. Fox News, "Bodies of married couple pulled from river in Pennsylvania, child found in car nearby: reports," 5 July 2019 Get our daily newsletter As with India as a whole, the growing city’s demand for water has placed huge stress on traditional sources such as groundwater, rivers and lakes. The Economist, "Thirsty Indian cities have a management problem, not a water problem," 4 July 2019 Mountains, forests, rivers and the ocean converge with inspiring creatives and culinary risk takers in this small city with a huge heart. Sarah Rubin, Harper's BAZAAR, "How to Eat & Drink Your Way Through Portland," 3 July 2019 Officials warn that record-high water levels can cause hazards for those trying to enjoy the water on Michigan's beautiful lakes, rivers and streams. Anna Bauman, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan water levels are at record highs: Why it's so dangerous for boaters, swimmers," 2 July 2019 But now there are tents by the river and a s’mores bar and firepit in the main fort. Joshua Berman, The Know, "Colorado’s newest campground offers glamping an hour from Denver," 29 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'river.' 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 river

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

History and Etymology for river

Middle English rivere, from Anglo-French, from Vulgar Latin *riparia, from Latin, feminine of riparius riparian, from ripa bank, shore; perhaps akin to Greek ereipein to tear down

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Learn More about river

Dictionary Entries near river





river's mouth



Statistics for river

Last Updated

12 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for river

The first known use of river was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for river



English Language Learners Definition of river

: a large natural flow of water that crosses an area of land and goes into an ocean, a lake, etc.
: a large flow of something


riv·​er | \ ˈri-vər How to pronounce river (audio) \

Kids Definition of river

1 : a natural stream of water larger than a brook or creek
2 : a large stream or flow a river of mud

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More from Merriam-Webster on river

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with river

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for river

Spanish Central: Translation of river

Nglish: Translation of river for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of river for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about river

Comments on river

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