General English


  • noun a large flow of water, running from a natural source in mountains or hills down to the sea


  • noun a body of fresh water, which flows along a natural channel towards a sea or lake


  • noun a long white space running down a printed page, caused when wide spacing occurs between words on every line.

Origin & History of “river”

Etymologically, the term river denotes the ‘banks’ of a river, rather than the water that flows between them. Its distant ancestor is Latin rīpa ‘bank’. from this was derived the adjective rīpārius (source of English riparian ‘of a river-bank’ (19th c.)), whose feminine form came to be used in vulgar Latin as a noun, *rīpāria, denoting ‘land by the water’s edge’. From it evolved Italian riviera ‘bank’ (whence English Riviera (18th c.)) and Old French riviere. This originally meant ‘river bank’, but this subsequently developed to ‘river’, the sense in which English adopted the word. A heavily disguised English relative is arrive, which etymologically denotes ‘come to the shore’.