Etymology
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Jordan 

river in ancient Palestine; the crossing of it is symbolic of death in high-flown language as a reference to Numbers xxxiii.51. Also a type of pot or vessel (late 14c.), especially a chamber-pot, but the sense there is unknown. The modern nation-state dates to 1921. Related: Jordanian.

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river (n.)

early 13c. (late 12c. in surnames), "a considerable body of water flowing with perceptible current in a definite course or channel," from Anglo-French rivere, Old French riviere "river, riverside, river bank" (12c.), from Vulgar Latin *riparia "riverbank, seashore, river" (source also of Spanish ribera, Italian riviera), noun use of fem. of Latin riparius "of a riverbank" (see riparian).

The generalized sense of "a copious flow" of anything is from late 14c., as is figurative use. 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" (compare Riviera). In printing by 1898: "streaks of white space in text caused by the spaces between words in several lines happening to fall one almost below the other."

U.S. slang phrase up the river "in prison" (1891) is said to be originally in reference to Sing Sing prison, up the Hudson River from New York City. The phrase down the river "done for, finished" (1893) perhaps echoes the sense in sell down the river (1836, American English), originally of slaves sold from the Upper South to the harsher plantations of the Deep South.

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salt river (n.)

"a tidal river," 1650s; see salt (n. ) + river. as a proper name, it was used early 19c. with reference to backwoods inhabitants of the U.S., especially those of Kentucky (there is a Salt River in the Bluegrass region of the state; the river is not salty, but salt manufactured from salt licks in the area was shipped down the river). The U.S. political slang phrase to row (someone) up Salt River "send (someone) to political defeat" probably owes its origin to this geographical reference, as the first attested use (1828) is in a Kentucky context. The phrase may also refer to the salt of tears.

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up-river (prep.)

1773, from up + river. As an adverb from 1848.

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river-bank (n.)

"sloping edge or border of a river," 1560s, from river (n.) + bank (n.2).

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river-bottom (n.)

"alluvial land along the margin of a river," 1752, American English, from river (n.) + bottom (n.).

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West Bank 

in reference to the former Jordanian territory west of the River Jordan, 1967.

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Pisgah 

name of the mountain east of the River Jordan, whence Moses was allowed to view the Promised Land he could not enter (Deuteronomy iii.27); with figurative use from 1640s. The name is Hebrew, literally "cleft."

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Shiloh 

village on the west bank of the Jordan River, perhaps from an alteration of Hebrew shalo "to be peaceful." The American Civil War battle fought in western Tennessee (April 6-7, 1862) was so called for being fought around the little Shiloh log church (Methodist), which was destroyed in the battle.

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Dead Sea 

lake of the River Jordan, mid-13c., from dead (adj.); its water is 26 percent salt (as opposed to 3 or 4 percent in most oceans) and supports practically no life. In the Bible it was the "Salt Sea" (Hebrew yam hammelah), also "Sea of the Plain" and "East Sea." In Arabic it is al-bahr al-mayyit "Dead Sea." The ancient Greeks knew it as he Thalassa asphaltites "the Asphaltite Sea." Latin Mare Mortum, Greek he nekra thalassa (both "The Dead Sea") referred to the sea at the northern boundaries of Europe, the Arctic Ocean.

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