from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A sudden overflow of a stream resulting from a heavy rain or a thaw.
  • noun A stream of fresh water that empties into a body of salt water.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A small stream of fresh water; a brook.
  • noun A flood or overflowing of a river, by reason of heavy rains or melted snow; an inundation, especially one of a comparatively moderate extent: same as fresh, n., 1.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun obsolete A stream of fresh water.
  • noun A flood or overflowing of a stream caused by heavy rains or melted snow; a sudden inundation.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A flood resulting from heavy rain or a spring thaw.
  • noun poetic A small stream, especially one flowing into the sea.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun the occurrence of a water flow resulting from sudden rain or melting snow


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French freschete, a diminutive of fres ("fresh") via its feminine form fresche.


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  • The river-bed was here about a mile and a half broad and entirely covered with shingle over which the river ran in many winding channels, looking, when seen from above, like a tangled skein of ribbon, and glistening in the sun. We knew that it was liable to very sudden and heavy freshets; but even had we not known it, we could have seen it by the snags of trees, which must have been carried long distances, and by the mass of vegetable and mineral debris which was banked against their lower side, showing that at times the whole river-bed must be covered with a roaring torrent many feet in depth and of ungovernable fury.

    - Samuel Butler, Erewhon

    July 18, 2008

  • If I could see the weedy mussels

    Crusting the wrecked and rotting hulls,

    Hear once again the hungry crying

    Overhead, of the wheeling gulls;

    Feel once again the shanty straining

    Under the turning of the tide,

    Fear once again the rising freshet,

    Dread the bell in the fog outside,

    I should be happy!

    - Edna St. Vincent Millay, 'Exiled'.

    September 22, 2009