[ riv-er ]
/ ˈrɪv ər /


a natural stream of water of fairly large size flowing in a definite course or channel or series of diverging and converging channels.
a similar stream of something other than water: a river of lava; a river of ice.
any abundant stream or copious flow; outpouring: rivers of tears; rivers of words.
(initial capital letter) Astronomy. the constellation Eridanus.
Printing. a vertical channel of white space resulting from the alignment in several lines of spaces between words.

Idioms for river

    sell down the river, to betray; desert; mislead: to sell one's friends down the river.
    up the river, Slang.
    1. to prison: to be sent up the river for a bank robbery.
    2. in prison: Thirty years up the river had made him a stranger to society.

Origin of river

1250–1300; Middle English < Old French rivere, riviere < Vulgar Latin *rīpāria, noun use of feminine of Latin rīpārius riparian


riv·er·less, adjectiveriv·er·like, adjective


brook creek river stream
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for sell down the river

/ (ˈrɪvə) /


  1. a large natural stream of fresh water flowing along a definite course, usually into the sea, being fed by tributary streams
  2. (as modifier)river traffic; a river basin
  3. (in combination)riverside; riverbed Related adjectives: fluvial, potamic
any abundant stream or flowa river of blood
sell down the river informal to deceive or betray
the river poker slang the fifth and final community card to be dealt in a round of Texas hold 'em

Derived forms of river

riverless, adjective

Word Origin for river

C13: from Old French riviere, from Latin rīpārius of a river bank, from rīpa bank
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Science definitions for sell down the river

[ rĭvər ]

A wide, natural stream of fresh water that flows into an ocean or other large body of water and is usually fed by smaller streams, called tributaries, that enter it along its course. A river and its tributaries form a drainage basin, or watershed, that collects the runoff throughout the region and channels it along with erosional sediments toward the river. The sediments are typically deposited most heavily along the river's lower course, forming floodplains along its banks and a delta at its mouth.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with sell down the river (1 of 2)

sell down the river

Betray, as in They kept the merger a secret until the last minute, so the employees who were laid off felt they'd been sold down the river. This expression, dating from the mid-1800s, alludes to slaves being sold down the Mississippi River to work as laborers on cotton plantations. Its figurative use dates from the late 1800s.

Idioms and Phrases with sell down the river (2 of 2)


see sell down the river; up the river.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.