Saturday, April 21, 2007


From Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day:

The Word of the Day for April 21 is:

riparian \ruh-PAIR-ee-un\ adjective: relating to or living or located on the bank of a natural watercourse (as a river) or sometimes of a lake or a tidewater

Example sentence: Residents of the riparian community learned to brace themselves for a flood whenever torrential rain was forecast.

Did you know? "Riparian" came to English from the same source that gave us "river" -- the Latin "riparius," a noun deriving from "ripa," meaning "bank" or "shore." First appearing in English in the 19th century, "riparian" refers to things that exist alongside a river (such as riparian wetlands, habitats, trees, etc.). Some river communities have laws called "riparian rights," referring to the rights of those owning land along a river to have access to the waterway. Note the distinction of this word from "littoral," which usually refers to things that occur along the shore of a sea or ocean.
Why is riparian making an appearance here? Because Van Dyke Parks (whose song-title I've borrowed for this blog's title) is the only person I've ever known to use the word (in a commencement address).

(Thanks, Van Dyke!)

comments: 6

Anonymous said...

Devotees of Keeping up Appearances will never forget Hyacinth Bucket's "waterside supper with riparian entertainments."

LCS said...

...oh no! It's that Bucket woman again!

Michael Leddy said...


Anonymous said...

I discovered the word because I live in such a place since 1989. I use it every year or so. Hard to believe I live in the woods in Nebraska.

Anonymous said...

And people who competed for river rights were ... rivals!

Michael Leddy said...

Yes — that's an amazing etymology. Thanks, Charless!