American English

Definition of river noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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  1. 1(abbreviation R.) a natural flow of water that continues in a long line across land to the ocean the Hudson River on the banks of the river (= the ground at the side of a river) to travel up the/down the river (= in the opposite direction to/in the same direction as the way in which the river is flowing) the mouth of the river (= where it enters the ocean) Can we swim in the river? a boat on the river They have a house on the river (= beside it).
  2. 2river (of something) a large amount of liquid that is flowing in a particular direction Rivers of molten lava flowed down the mountain.
  3. Idioms
    sell somebody down the river (informal)
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    to give poor or unfair treatment to someone you have promised to help From the custom of buying and selling slaves on the plantations on the Mississippi river. Slaves who caused trouble for their masters could be sold to plantation owners lower down the river, where conditions would be worse.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: river