Meaning of RIVER in English

riv ‧ er S2 W2 /ˈrɪvə $ -ər/ BrE AmE noun [countable]

[ Date: 1200-1300 ; Language: Old French ; Origin: rivere , from Latin riparius 'of a river bank' , from ripa 'bank, shore' ]

1 . a natural and continuous flow of water in a long line across a country into the sea ⇨ stream :

the Mississippi River

the River Thames

on a river

There were several boats on the river.

along a river

We went for a walk along the river.

up/down (a) river

a ship sailing up river

They drifted slowly down river.

across a river

a bridge across the river

► Be careful about word order with river names - you say the River Thames, the River Nile, the River Amazon etc, but the Hudson River, the Mississippi River etc.

2 . a large amount of moving liquid

river of

a river of hot lava flowing from the volcano

⇨ sell somebody down the river at ↑ sell 1 (10)

• • •


■ verbs

▪ a river flows

The River Avon flows through the town of Stratford.

▪ a river runs (=it flows in a particular direction )

the place where the river runs into the sea

▪ a river winds (=it turns and curves, rather than going in a straight line)

He could see the river winding across the plain.

▪ a river floods

There are fears that the river could flood.

▪ a river dries up

Further downstream the river has dried up completely several times in recent years.

▪ a river narrows (=it becomes narrower)

The river narrows at this point.

▪ a river rises somewhere formal (=it starts there)

The River Euphrates rises in Turkey and flows through Syria.

▪ cross a river

Cross the river by the road bridge and then turn right.

▪ ford a river (=cross a river on foot, in a vehicle, or on a horse, without using a bridge)

The water was shallow enough for us to be able to ford the river.

▪ navigate a river (=to travel along a river )

The narrow cliffs once made the river dangerous to navigate.

■ adjectives

▪ wide/broad

We crossed the wide River Rhone the following morning.

▪ long

The Severn is the longest river in Britain.

▪ swollen/high (=containing more water than usual)

After the rains, the river was swollen.


The river was high and running quite swiftly.

▪ fast-flowing

The child fell into a fast-flowing river.

▪ a mighty river (=very big and impressive)

Cairo sits at the mouth of the mighty river Nile.

▪ a river is navigable (=people are able to travel along it in a boat)

The river is navigable in the winter months.

■ river + NOUN

▪ the river bank

Crowds lined the river banks to watch the boat race.

▪ a river bed (=the bottom of a river)

They walked along a dry river bed.

▪ a river valley

They came to a wide river valley.

■ phrases

▪ the banks of a river (=the land near a river)

He bought a house on the banks of the River Wye.

▪ the mouth of a river (=where it joins the sea)

The Statue of Liberty stands at the mouth of the Hudson River.

▪ the source of a river (=the place where it starts)

Where exactly is the source of the River Ganges?

▪ the upper/lower etc reaches of a river (=the upper, lower etc parts)

We sailed down the lower reaches of the river.

▪ a bend in a river

He rounded a bend in the river and saw Flora sitting there.

▪ a river is in spate British English (=it is very full and the water is flowing very quickly)

The snow had just melted and the rivers were in spate.

• • •


▪ river a line of water that flows into the sea:

They crossed the river by ferry.


the River Tweed


the Yangtze river

▪ tributary a stream or river that flows into a larger river:

The River Trombetas is a tributary of the River Amazon.

▪ estuary the wide part of a river where it goes into the sea:

plans to build a big new airport on the Thames estuary

▪ canal a long passage dug into the ground and filled with water, either for boats to travel along, or to take water to a place:

Venice’s famous canals


a canal boat

▪ delta an area of low land where a river spreads into many smaller rivers near the sea:

the Nile delta

■ a small river

▪ stream a small narrow river:

a cool mountain stream

▪ brook literary a small stream:

There was a small brook, rushing and sparkling along between green banks.

▪ creek a narrow area of sea that goes into the land, or a small river:

The River Fal with its many creeks was a perfect place for smugglers.


The kids hunted for crabs in the muddy creek.

■ parts of a river

▪ mouth the part of a river where it joins the sea:

Havre-Marat was a port at the mouth of the River Seine.

▪ bank land along the side of a river:

the river bank


He owns a chateau on the banks of the River Loire.

▪ source the place where a river or stream starts:

The source of the River Nile was discovered by a British explorer, John Speke.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.