[riv.er] n, often attrib [ME rivere, fr. OF, fr. (assumed) VL riparia, fr. L, fem. of riparius riparian, fr. ripa bank, shore; perh. akin to Gk ereipein to tear down] (14c) 1 a: a natural stream of water of usu. considerable volume b: watercourse
2. a: something resembling a river "a ~ of lava" b pl: large or overwhelming quantities "drank ~s of coffee" -- up the river : to or in prison "takes the rap and goes up the river --Nigel Balchin"