noun, often attributive
riv·er | \ˈri-vər \

Definition of river 

1a : a natural stream of water of usually considerable volume

b : watercourse

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 one-day-only event will be held outdoors for the first time, at the Reed Street Yards Park across the river from the Harley-Davidson Museum. Nancy Stohs, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Richard Blais leads celebrity chef parade at Wine & Food Experience," 11 July 2018 Schnatter, who sold his 11-year-old Camaro to get his business off the ground, now lives across the river in the upscale city of Anchorage, Kentucky. Morgan Watkins, The Courier-Journal, "Papa John's hometown takes his name off gym after he admits racial slur," 11 July 2018 Ten days later, on May 25, Carlos and Heyli pushed off the banks of the Rio Grande on the outskirts of Reynosa, Mexico, and rafted across the river with several other migrants. Jay Root And Shannon Najmabadi, star-telegram, "'A very cruel punishment': Family split by 'zero tolerance' won't try to cross again," 10 July 2018 From a Lawn Across the river in Cambridge, taking in the fireworks display from MIT's grassy lawn comes with a city backdrop and the lights of the iconic CITGO Sign in the distance. Cassie Shortsleeve, Condé Nast Traveler, "Where to Watch the 4th of July Fireworks 2018 in Boston," 4 July 2018 The event’s organizers described its location as ideal: towers in Manhattan lit up across the river, the Statue of Liberty visible in the distance, and Ellis Island nearby. New York Times, "Jersey City Makes a Statement With Fireworks Over the Hudson," 3 July 2018 Polous, a shrimper and oysterman, lost 14 boats, his home and pickup trucks in the quick-moving conflagration Sunday that left behind a trail of ash and ruins in Eastpoint, just across the river from the historic town of Apalachicola. Brendan Farrington And Gary Fineout, Sun-Sentinel.com, "'Controlled' blaze blamed for 36 destroyed homes," 28 June 2018 The applause rang out in the drab meeting hall across the river from David Hockenbury’s hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. Katrine Jo Andersen, The New Republic, "Rejected by A.A.," 27 June 2018 Devou Park To get the best city backdrop, go across the river to Devou Park in Covington. Sallee Ann Ruibal, Cincinnati.com, "National Selfie Day: 5 best places to take a selfie in Cincinnati," 21 June 2018

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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Dictionary Entries near river





river's mouth



Statistics for river

Last Updated

4 Oct 2018

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 \

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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Comments on river

What made you want to look up river? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


not any or not one

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