Entries linking to river-bottom
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.
Middle English botme, from Old English botm, bodan "ground, soil, foundation, lowest or deepest part of anything," from Proto-Germanic *buthm- (source also of Old Frisian boden "soil," Old Norse botn, Dutch bodem, Old High German bodam, German Boden "ground, earth, soil"). This is perhaps from PIE root *bhudhno- "bottom" (source also of Sanskrit budhnah, Avestan buna- "bottom," Greek pythmen "foundation," Latin fundus "bottom, piece of land, farm," Old Irish bond "sole of the foot").
The meaning "fundamental character, essence" is from 1570s; to get to the bottom of some matter is from 1773. The meaning "posterior of a person" (the sitting part) is from 1794. Bottoms up as a call to finish one's drink is from 1875. Bottom dollar "the last dollar one has" is from 1857. To do or feel something from the bottom of (one's) heart is from 1540s. Bottom-feeder, originally in reference to fish, is from 1866.
updated on September 03, 2021