river in England, a Celtic name, perhaps "great wanderer," in reference to its flooding. The city in Italy (Italian Trento) is Roman Tridentum, in reference to the triple-peaked mountain nearby. The great ecumenical council there was held from 1543-63.
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.
"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.
city in New Jersey, U.S., originally Trent's Town, from William Trent, Philadelphia merchant who laid it out in 1714.
fine sort of porcelain, 1869, named for first maker, Josiah Spode (1754-1827), potter in Stoke-on-Trent, England.
1590s, "to run or bend in a certain direction" (of rivers, coasts, etc.), from Middle English trenden "to roll about, turn, revolve," from Old English trendan "turn round, revolve, roll," from Proto-Germanic *trandijan (source also of Old English trinde "round lump, ball," Old Frisian trind, Middle Low German trint "round," Middle Low German trent "ring, boundary," Dutch trent "circumference," Danish trind "round"); origin and connections outside Germanic uncertain. Sense of "have a general tendency" (used of events, opinions, etc.) is first recorded 1863, from the nautical sense. Related: Trended; trending.