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  • A tributary is river or stream that flows into a larger river.
  • A distributary a stream branching off a river.

Is there a word that combines both structures, the idea of a river that splits in two and later rejoins to become one river again?

         /---------------\
---------                 --------------------
         \---------------/

My focus here is on the waterway, not the land. I’m looking for a word describing the behavior of the river splitting and later rejoining, without regard for the geography, and without regard for the cause or effect between land and water.

  • +1 However, that looks more like a case of an island in a river. How is it materially different? If the island is small, it can be seen as such, if very large and over a length of the stream, it may look different as in this case. worldlandforms.com/landforms/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/… – Kris Aug 16 '18 at 7:12
  • This isn't really an answer to your question, but where I live there's a large river island that divides a very large river (second largest on west coast of North America) and the two channels are referred to as the north arm and the south arm. – Al Maki Aug 16 '18 at 16:49
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Anabranch

An anabranch is a section of a river or stream that diverts from the main channel or stem of the watercourse and rejoins the main stem downstream.
Anabranch Wikipedia article

anabranch
n
(Physical Geography) a stream that leaves a river and enters it again further downstream
Collins English Dictionary

There is also the term "anastomose" which is used in a number of fields. It means to come together, and is used to refer to river streams and blood vessels for example.

Anastomosing streams consist of multiple channels that divide and reconnect and are separated by semi-permanent banks formed of cohesive material, such that they are unlikely to migrate from one channel position to another.
Anastomosis

I believe that the anabranch is one stream that breaks off, and the whole, that is, the main watercourse together with its anabranching streams which come together at a later point is an "anastomosing river".

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braided river or Anastomosing stream

braided river, or braided channel, consists of a network of river channels separated by small, and often temporary, islands called braid bars

Anastomosing streams consist of multiple channels that divide and reconnect and are separated by semi-permanent banks formed of cohesive material, such that they are unlikely to migrate from one channel position to another. ... The term anabranch has been used for segments of anastamosing rivers.

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The answer is other way around. Actually, when river splits into two main streams and later when those two main streams merges to become one river again they form an Island called river island. The structure which you depicted is of river island.

enter image description here

Wiki article on river island

The words: anabranch, braided river or anastomosing stream talks about small branches of river which splits into single or multiples branch(es) and later flow again into the river.

NOTE: Also, please read the upvoted comment of James. It has a nice suggestion.

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    Also called an eyot or ait. – user184130 Aug 16 '18 at 10:11
  • @JamesRandom eyot /ait are small temporary islands. They can get eroded easily. Whereas, river islands are permanent. – Ubi hatt Aug 16 '18 at 10:13
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    There are houses on the aits in the river Thames so I'm not sure what definition of "temporary" you are using. When it comes to geology, all structures are temporary on some time scale. – user184130 Aug 16 '18 at 10:15
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    Thanks for answering, but my focus is on the waterway, not the land. I’ll edit my Question to clarify. The other two Answers, for anabranch and braided river are what I’m looking for. – Basil Bourque Aug 16 '18 at 18:12

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