A river is a natural watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, a lake, a sea, or another river. In a few cases, a river simply flows into the ground or dries up completely at the end of its course, and does not reach another body of water. Small rivers may be called by several other names, including stream, creek, brook, rivulet, and rill. There are no official definitions for generic terms, such as river, as applied to geographic features, although in some countries or communities a stream may be defined by its size. Many names for small rivers are specific to geographic location; examples are "run" in the United States, "burn" in Scotland and northeast England, and "beck" in northern England. Sometimes a river is defined as being larger than a creek, but not always: the language is vague.
Rivers are part of the hydrological cycle. Water generally collects in a river from precipitation through a drainage basin from surface runoff and other sources such as groundwater recharge, springs, and the release of stored water in natural ice and snowpacks (e.g. from glaciers). Potamology is the scientific study of rivers while limnology is the study of inland waters in general.
No extraterrestrial rivers are currently known, though large flows of hydrocarbons described as rivers have recently been found on Titan. Channels may indicate past rivers on other planets, specifically outflow channels on Mars and are theorised to exist on planets and moons in habitable zones of stars.
Famous quotes containing the word river:
“The first man to discover Chinook salmon in the Columbia, caught 264 in a day and carried them across the river by walking on the backs of other fish. His greatest feat, however, was learning the Chinook jargon in 15 minutes from listening to salmon talk.”
—State of Oregon, U.S. public relief program (1935-1943)
“I journeyed to London, to the timekept City,
Where the River flows, with foreign flotations.
There I was told: we have too many churches,
And too few chop-houses.”
—T.S. (Thomas Stearns)