riv·​er ˈri-vər How to pronounce river (audio)
often attributive
: a natural stream of water of usually considerable volume
: something resembling a river
a river of lava
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 Some remains of these flora—trees, leaves and branches carried by a river to the ocean or plant fragments that may have been blown there by the wind—ended up sinking to the bottom of the ocean, where conditions were ideal for preservation. Santiago Flórez, Smithsonian Magazine, 6 Feb. 2024 Gushing rivers carried mud, rocks and household objects downhill as floodwaters coursed through Studio City, an area on the back side of the Hollywood Hills. John Antczak, arkansasonline.com, 6 Feb. 2024 More than 100 mudslides and two dozen buildings damaged in Los Angeles Across Southern California Monday, neighborhood streets turned into muddy, gushing rivers that swallowed cars, washed away debris and left people and animals stranded. Christina Maxouris, CNN, 6 Feb. 2024 In San Jose, emergency crews pulled occupants out of the windows of a car stranded by floodwaters and rescued people from a homeless encampment alongside a rising river. Ishani Desai, Sacramento Bee, 5 Feb. 2024 Years later, his life and legacy continue to grow like a tree planted by the rivers of water. Ken Makin, The Christian Science Monitor, 5 Feb. 2024 Every March, more than half a million sandhill cranes descend on Nebraska’s Platte River en route to their nesting grounds in Canada and Alaska—more than 80 percent of the world’s sandhill cranes use the same 75-mile stretch of river. Emily Matchar, Smithsonian Magazine, 26 Jan. 2024 Advertisement Some structures along the river were elaborate. Blake Nelson, San Diego Union-Tribune, 26 Jan. 2024 Two mammoth multibillion-dollar development projects backed by the Hong Kong and Chinese governments — including one that will straddle the banks of the river — will change the look, feel and economic pulse of Hong Kong, with one goal in mind: integration with mainland China. Theodora Yu, Washington Post, 26 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'river.' 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 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

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near river

Cite this Entry

“River.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/river. Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


riv·​er ˈriv-ər How to pronounce river (audio)
: a natural stream of water larger than a brook or creek
: a large stream or flow
the jet stream is a river of air

Middle English rivere "river," from early French rivere (same meaning), derived from Latin riparius "related to or located on the bank of a river," from ripa "shore"

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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