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 The water became contaminated in 2014-15 because water pulled from the river wasn't treated to reduce the corrosive effect on lead pipes. CBS News, 11 Aug. 2022 Quinoñez drank water straight from the river and built an impressive wooden dock to aid his fishing. Frederick Dreier, Outside Online, 11 Aug. 2022 French officials had mobilized an ad hoc team of roughly 80 specialists, including wildlife experts, veterinarians and divers to rescue the whale from the river in what became an all-night operation from Tuesday to Wednesday. Sam Schechner, WSJ, 10 Aug. 2022 On Tuesday night, rescue efforts to remove the whale from the river began. Giovana Gelhoren, Peoplemag, 10 Aug. 2022 Last year, things were so bad the city couldn’t pull water from the river at all. Kathleen Ronayne, The Christian Science Monitor, 8 Aug. 2022 The first phase scheduled to start in the Spring will include building a bridge over the White River and rebuilding the road from the river to about 12th Street. John Tuohy, The Indianapolis Star, 8 Aug. 2022 While Alaskan families are prohibited from pulling one king salmon from the river, factory trawlers are dumping out metric tons of salmon, halibut, and crab as garbage. Anchorage Daily News, 7 Aug. 2022 But in the 19th century what is now the Union Pacific Railway chose a rail route on the other side of the Kansas River, when ferries were the only way to cross the river. Steve Grant, Hartford Courant, 6 Aug. 2022 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for river

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

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Dictionary Entries Near river



river's mouth

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Statistics for river

Last Updated

15 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“River.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/river. Accessed 18 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for river


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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