bar·​ran·​ca | \ bə-ˈraŋ-kə How to pronounce barranca (audio) \
variants: or less commonly barranco \ bə-​ˈraŋ-​(ˌ)kō How to pronounce barranco (audio) \
plural barrancas also barrancos

Definition of barranca

1 : a deep gully or arroyo with steep sides
2 : a steep bank or bluff

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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).

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Time Traveler for barranca

Time Traveler

The first known use of barranca was in 1648

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Cite this Entry

“Barranca.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Nov. 2020.

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