river

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cry (someone) a river

Said sarcastically to someone whose whining, complaints, or tears fall on unsympathetic ears. Most often said as "cry me a river." You can cry me a river, but you're still not going to that party tonight! A: "It's so unfair, I work so hard, but I only get a raise every two years!" B: "Oh, cry me a river, I haven't gotten a raise since I first started working!"
See also: cry, river

Don't change horses in the middle of the river.

1. Proverb Do not try to choose or back a different political figure for an election after the decision has already been made or the position filled. Many people are dissatisfied with the senator's performance but will likely carry his party's support through to the next election—don't change horses in the middle of the river, as the saying goes.
2. Proverb By extension, do not make major changes to a situation or course of action that is already underway. I'm really not confident in the strength of my essay, but I guess I just have to see this one through at this point. Like they say, don't change horses in the middle of the river.
See also: change, horse, middle, of

Don't swap horses in the middle of the river.

1. Proverb Do not try to choose or back a different political figure for an election after the decision has already been made or the position filled. Many people are dissatisfied with the senator's performance but will likely carry his party's support through to the next election—don't swap horses in the middle of the river, as the saying goes.
2. Proverb By extension, do not make major changes to a situation or course of action that is already underway. I'm really not confident in the strength of my essay, but I guess I just have to see this one through at this point. Like they say, don't swap horses in the middle of the river.
See also: horse, middle, of, swap

sell (one) down the river

To betray one for a personal benefit. An allusion to the practice of selling slaves to plantations farther south via the Mississippi River. These companies all want to pretend like they're your friend, but they'll sell you down the river the moment it makes financial sense for them. Part of the discontentment among voters comes from the sentiment that those in government sold them down the river when the economy collapsed.
See also: down, river, sell

sell out

1. To betray one for a personal benefit. A noun or pronoun can be used between "sell" and "out." Part of the discontentment among voters comes from the sentiment that those in government sold them out when the economy collapsed. Jacob sold out the others to the police so that he would avoid jail time.
2. For a stock of something to become completely depleted due to every item having been sold. The tickets sold out in a matter of minutes. The new console is expected to sell out in minutes after it goes on sale.
3. To abandon or betray one's espoused principles or cause, especially in the pursuit of profit or personal benefit. Many of his fans felt he sold out when he signed with a major record label. That's it? One hard month and you're ready to sell out and get a corporate job?
See also: out, sell

up the river

1. To, in, or at prison. It is extremely gratifying to see these wealthy white-collar criminals being sent up the river for stealing from so many people. I actually had better conditions up the river than I ever did in the slums where I grew up.
2. In a difficult, troubling, or dangerous situation, especially one from which it is impossible or extremely difficult to extricate oneself. Often followed by "without a paddle." A less common variant of the phrase "up a/the creek (without a paddle)." We're really going to be up the river without a paddle if we run out of gas out here in the desert. How did we get ourselves so far up the river like this? There's no way we can pay back this much debt.
See also: river, up

sail up the/a/(some) river

To travel in a boat, especially a sailboat, upstream through a river. I managed to sail up the river by constantly adjusting my position in relation to the current and the wind. The navy vessels sailed up the River Thames as part of the Remembrance Day festivities.
See also: river, sail, up

send (one) up the river

To sentence one to prison; to cause one to go to prison. A federal judge just sent the CEO up the river for 45 years for defrauding millions of customers. The mob boss ordered a hit on the detective who had sent his right-hand man up the river.
See also: river, send, up

sail up a river

to travel upstream on a river in a boat or ship. We sailed up the Amazon River in a large, seagoing ship. It was not possible to sail up the Mississippi as far as we wanted.
See also: river, sail, up

sell out (to someone)

 
1. to sell everything, such as all one's property or one's company, to someone. The farmer finally gave up and sold out to a large corporation. I refuse to sell out no matter what they offer me.
2. to betray someone or something to someone. I think that you have sold out to the enemy!
See also: out, sell

sell out (to someone)

 
1. to sell everything, such as all one's property or one's company, to someone. The farmer finally gave up and sold out to a large corporation. I refuse to sell out no matter what they offer me.
2. to betray someone or something to someone. I think that you have sold out to the enemy!
See also: out, sell

sell someone out

 and sell someone down the river
to betray someone; to reveal damaging information about someone. Bill told everything he knew about Bob, and that sold Bob down the river. You'll be sorry if you sell me out. Lefty sold out his friends, and we'll all soon be arrested.
See also: out, sell

sell something out

to sell all of something. Have they sold their supply out yet? The stores sold out their stocks of that game long before Christmas.
See also: out, sell

send someone up the river

Fig. to send someone to prison. (Underworld. As done by a judge or indirectly by the police.) They tried to send me up the river, but my testimony got me off. I'm gonna send you up the river if it's the last thing I do.
See also: river, send, up

up the river

Sl. in prison. (Underworld.) Gary was up the river for a couple of years, but that doesn't make him an outcast, does it? The judge who sent him up the river was indicted for accepting bribery. If Gary had only known sooner!
See also: river, up

sell down the river

Betray, as in They kept the merger a secret until the last minute, so the employees who were laid off felt they'd been sold down the river . This expression, dating from the mid-1800s, alludes to slaves being sold down the Mississippi River to work as laborers on cotton plantations. Its figurative use dates from the late 1800s.
See also: down, river, sell

sell out

1. Dispose of entirely by selling. For example, The rancher finally sold out to the oil company, or The tickets to the concert were sold out a month ago. [Late 1700s]
2. Betray one's cause or colleagues, as in He sold out to the other side. [Slang; late 1800s]
See also: out, sell

up the river

To or in prison, as in They sent him up the river for five years. This phrase originally referred to Sing-Sing Prison, on the Hudson River about 30 miles north of New York City. So used from about 1890 on, it was broadened to apply to any prison by the early 1900s.
See also: river, up

sell someone down the river

If someone sells you down the river, they betray you or do something which harms you in order to gain an advantage for themselves. He has been sold down the river by the people who were supposed to protect him. He said he could not agree to measures which would sell British farmers down the river. Note: This is a reference to slave-owners on the Mississippi river selling unwanted slaves to other slave-owners further down the river, where the conditions were harsher.
See also: down, river, sell, someone

sell someone down the river

betray someone, especially so as to benefit yourself. informal
This expression originated in the USA, with reference to the practice in the slave-owning states of selling troublesome slaves to owners of sugar-cane plantations on the lower Mississippi, where conditions were harsher than those in the more northerly states.
1998 Bookseller Once you have lost it with the first three the last lot will sell you down the river so fast it isn't true.
See also: down, river, sell, someone

up the river

to or in prison. informal, chiefly North American
This phrase originated with reference to Sing Sing prison, which is situated up the Hudson River from the city of New York.
See also: river, up

sell somebody down the ˈriver

(informal) act very unfairly to somebody who trusts you; betray somebody you have promised to help: The workers thought that their own leaders had sold them down the river.This idiom comes from the days of slavery in the US. A slave who was sold to an owner further down the Mississippi river would experience worse conditions than in the states further north.
See also: down, river, sell, somebody

sell out

v.
1. To be sold completely: The tickets will sell out by tomorrow.
2. To sell one's entire supply of a particular item: I'm afraid we sold out all our ice cream, kids! The hardware store sold out of plywood as the hurricane moved closer to shore.
3. To cause some supply of merchandise to be sold completely. Used in the passive: We can't get into the theater because the tickets are sold out.
4. To cause some vendor to sell its entire supply of something. Used in the passive: I wanted to buy more spoons, but the store was sold out.
5. To sell one's entire stake in a business or venture: The owners of the liquor store plan to sell out as soon as they can find a buyer.
6. To betray one's cause or colleagues, especially for money: The disloyal baseball player sold out to another team.
7. To betray someone or something, especially for money: The manager sold out his staff in order to keep his own job. Our agent sold us out when she moved to a better company and dropped us as a client.
See also: out, sell

send someone up the river

tv. to send someone to prison. (Underworld. As done by a judge or indirectly by the police.) They tried to send me up the river, but my lip got me off.
See also: river, send, someone, up

up the river

mod. in prison. (Underworld.) The judge who sent him up the river was indicted for accepting bribery. If Gary had only known sooner!
See also: river, up

up the river

Slang
In or into prison.
See also: river, up

sell down the river

Informal
To betray the trust or faith of.
See also: down, river, sell

sell down the river, to

To betray. This term arose in the mid-nineteenth-century United States and referred to selling slaves down the Mississippi River, where they would almost certainly be worked to death in the cotton fields. The term was used in its literal sense by Harriet Beecher Stowe in her best-selling novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, but by the late nineteenth century it was being used figuratively. P. G. Wodehouse used it in Small Bachelor (1927): “When Sigisbee Waddington married for the second time, he to all intents and purposes sold himself down the river.”
See also: down, sell

up the river

In jail. The infamous Sing Sing Correctional Facility, located in the town of Ossining thirty miles north of New York City, sits on the Hudson River shoreline. Any criminal convicted in a New York court and sentenced to be imprisoned there was sent “up the river.” The phrase, made popular in gangster movies, began to be applied to other prisons in the country, whether or not the cells boasted of a river view. “Up the river” should not be confused with “sold down the river,” meaning “deceived” and derived from the antebellum practice of Northern slaveholders selling troublesome slaves down the Mississippi River for a life of endless toil on cotton plantations.
See also: river, up
References in classic literature ?
The turbulence and rapidity of the current continually augmenting as they advanced, gave the voyagers intimation that they were approaching the great obstructions of the river, and at length they arrived at Strawberry Island, so called by Lewis and Clarke, which lies at the foot of the first rapid.
The falls or rapids of the Columbia are situated about one hundred and eighty miles above the mouth of the river. The first is a perpendicular cascade of twenty feet, after which there is a swift descent for a mile, between islands of hard black rock, to another pitch of eight feet divided by two rocks.
The river is again compressed into a channel from fifty to a hundred feet wide, worn through a rough bed of hard black rock, along which it boils and roars with great fury for the distance of three miles.
In the spring of the year, when the water is high, the salmon ascend the river in incredible numbers.
After having been opened and disemboweled, they are exposed to the sun on scaffolds erected on the river banks.
Hither the tribes from the mouth of the Columbia repaired with the fish of the sea-coast, the roots, berries, and especially the wappatoo, gathered in the lower parts of the river, together with goods and trinkets obtained from the ships which casually visit the coast.
The Indians of this great fishing mart are represented by the earliest explorers as sleeker and fatter, but less hardy and active, than the tribes of the mountains and prairies, who live by hunting, or of the upper parts of the river, where fish is scanty, and the inhabitants must eke out their subsistence by digging roots or chasing the deer.
In the present instance the travellers effected the laborious ascent of this part of the river, with all its various portages, without molestation, and once more launched away in smooth water above the high falls.
Stuart again pushed forward, under guidance of the two Indians, nor did he stop until he had arrived within about one hundred and forty miles of the Spokan River, which he considered near enough to keep the rival establishment in check.
Availing himself, therefore, of the driftwood which had collected in quantities in the neighboring bends of the river, Mr.
The bands infesting the Wind River Mountains and the country adjacent at the time of which we are treating, were Gros Ventres of the Prairies, which are not to be confounded with Gros Ventres of the Missouri, who keep about the lower part of that river, and are friendly to the white men.
The panglima Ninaka of the Signana Dyaks who manned Muda Saffir's war prahu saw his chief disappear beneath the swift waters of the river, but the word of command that would have sent the boat hurriedly back to pick up the swimmer was not given.
The river was there, deep, dark and silent, and he could place the responsibility for her loss upon Muda Saffir.
Shortly after day break Ninaka beached his prahu before the long-house of a peaceful river tribe.
Because the Andes didn't yet exist, the upheaval made South America tilt toward the west, and rivers ran in that direction.
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