barranca

noun bar·ran·ca \ bə-ˈraŋ-kə \
variants: or less commonly barranco play \-(ˌ)kō\
Updated on: 28 Feb 2018

Definition of barranca

plural barrancas also barrancos
1 : a deep gully or arroyo with steep sides
2 : a steep bank or bluff

Examples of barranca in a Sentence

  1. the intimidating barrancas that can be found in the Sierra Nevada

Origin and Etymology of 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 1bar) 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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