barranca

noun
bar·ran·ca | \bə-ˈraŋ-kə \
variants: or less commonly barranco \bə-ˈraŋ-(ˌ)kō \
plural barrancas also barrancos

Definition of barranca 

1 : a deep gully or arroyo with steep sides

2 : a steep bank or bluff

Examples of barranca in a Sentence

the intimidating barrancas that can be found in the Sierra Nevada

First Known Use of barranca

1648, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for barranca

borrowed from American Spanish, from Spanish, feminine derivative of barranco "cliff, precipice, gully, ravine," of pre-Latin substratal origin

Note: Outcomes of a pre-Latin form *barrank-, with variants, are known primarily from Iberia and southern France, with outliers in Piedmont (Val Sesia baranca), Switzerland (Surselvan vraunca) and Calabria and Sicily (see references in Joan Coromines, Diccionario crítico etimológico castellano e hispánico, Madrid, 1984). Greek pharang-, pháranx "gully, chasm" seems inseparable from the Romance etymon (see note at pharynx)—all perhaps evidence of a trans-European substratal terrain term (or a pre-Indo-European Wanderwort?). The hypothesis of derivation with a suffix *-anka from a base *barr- "bar, barrier" (see bar entry 1) seems unlikely, despite forms such as Occitan barrancon "rung of a chair or ladder," almost certainly of secondary origin (cf. Johannes Hubschmid in Vox Romanica, vol. 11 [1950], pp. 265-66).

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about barranca

Statistics for barranca

Last Updated

21 Aug 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for barranca

The first known use of barranca was in 1648

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on barranca

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for barranca

Spanish Central: Translation of barranca

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about barranca

Comments on barranca

What made you want to look up barranca? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

not any or not one

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble-tiles-that-read-scrabble-quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!