Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Etymology Today from M-W: riparian \ruh-PAIR-ee-un\
: relating to or living on the bank of a natural watercourse or sometimes of a lake or tidewater

"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" can apply to things that occur alongside a river (such as riparian towns, trees, etc.) as well as things that are found within it (riparian rocks, fish, 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.

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