- to prison: to be sent up the river for a bank robbery.
- in prison: Thirty years up the river had made him a stranger to society.
Origin of river1
Examples from the Web for up-river
Whoever heard of a man's face launching as much as an up-river punt, let alone fleets and fleets of full-sized ships?A Crooked Mile|Oliver Onions
Liu, the son of Kwong, followed him up-river and obtained a place in his household as pidgeon-cook, assistant to number-one cook.Civilization|Ellen Newbold La Motte
A party of ninety men in ten canoes left Astoria for up-river points on April 4, 1814.The Columbia River|William Denison Lyman
So, while you were in Seattle, I had a gasoline tug tow us up-river.Cappy Ricks|Peter B. Kyne
It was probably intended as a mere supply depot and point of refuge, conveniently near the sea to aid the up-river expedition.The South American Republics Part I of II|Thomas C. Dawson
British Dictionary definitions for up-river
- a large natural stream of fresh water flowing along a definite course, usually into the sea, being fed by tributary streams
- (as modifier)river traffic; a river basin
- (in combination)riverside; riverbed Related adjectives: fluvial, potamic
Word Origin for river
Word Origin and History for up-river (1 of 2)
early 13c., from Anglo-French rivere, Old French riviere "river, riverside, river bank" (12c.), from Vulgar Latin *riparia "riverbank, seashore, river" (cf. Spanish ribera, Italian riviera), noun use of fem. of Latin riparius "of a riverbank" (see riparian). Generalized sense of "a copious flow" of anything is from late 14c. The Old English word was ea "river," cognate with Gothic ahwa, Latin aqua (see aqua-). Romanic cognate words tend to retain the sense "river bank" as the main one, or else the secondary Latin sense "coast of the sea" (cf. Riviera).
U.S. slang phrase up the river "in prison" (1891) is originally in reference to Sing Sing prison, which was literally "up the (Hudson) river" from New York City. Phrase down the river "done for, finished" perhaps echoes sense in sell down the river (1851), originally of troublesome slaves, to sell from the Upper South to the harsher cotton plantations of the Deep South.
Science definitions for up-river
Idioms and Phrases with up-river
see sell down the river; up the river.