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 rain could lead to life-threatening flash flooding and aggravate ongoing river flooding. CBS News, "Tropical Storm Bertha makes landfall on South Carolina's coast," 27 May 2020 During the work, the east leaf of the drawbridge will not be able to open for river traffic. oregonlive, "Portland Tuesday traffic: Night pavement striping closes lanes of I-5 between Salem, Woodburn," 26 May 2020 The flash flooding threat is enhanced due to the heavy rain that fell across this region last week, leaving saturated soil and swollen rivers unable to handle much more water. NBC News, "Tropical Storm Bertha makes landfall near Charleston, South Carolina," 26 May 2020 The state Department of Health recommends a 14-day self-quarantine for those who have traveled internationally, on a cruise ship or river boat, or to a U.S. area where COVID-19 circulates widely in the community. Julia Thompson, USA TODAY, "States are reopening, but many require travelers to self-quarantine. Here's where," 25 May 2020 Ultimately, the dam was removed last year and natural river flows restored, with the help of state and federal grant money. Keith Matheny, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan's dam safety unit: 2 staff for entire state, a supervisor, and $397K," 24 May 2020 This past week marked the first time the Dells Boat Tours and the Original Wisconsin Ducks, two popular river attractions, were able to take passengers out this year, a stark difference from past springs. Laura Schulte, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Despite losing out on spring break vacationers, Wisconsin Dells businesses remain optimistic about summer," 22 May 2020 Tree planting, river restoration work, anything that wasn’t essential has had to be put on hold. The Economist, "Grand houses Britain’s palaces and stately homes are empty," 21 May 2020 Why tow a boat up to 14 hours, leaving perfectly good lakes behind and crossing any number of perfectly good rivers? al, "Fair winds: Sailing along a coast coming back to life," 20 May 2020

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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Time Traveler for river

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for river

Last Updated

30 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“River.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/river. Accessed 3 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for river


How to pronounce river (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for river

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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

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