up the river


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Related to up the river: Up the Creek

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
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

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
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

up the river

Slang
In or into prison.
See also: river, up
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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
Endangered Phrases by Steven D. Price Copyright © 2011 by Steven D. Price
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