bay·​ou | \ ˈbī-(ˌ)ü How to pronounce bayou (audio) , -(ˌ)ō \

Definition of bayou

1 : a creek, secondary watercourse, or minor river that is tributary to another body of water
2 : any of various usually marshy or sluggish bodies of water

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of bayou in a Sentence

a small creek that is the bayou of a larger stream
Recent Examples on the Web While cuisine from Louisiana tends to fall into either the Creole or Cajun description, local ingredients from the land, bayou and coastal waters are the highlight. National Geographic, "Whole Trout with Satsuma Beurre Blanc," 21 May 2020 For example, how did animals like Edmontosaurus survive long periods of darkness, even if Alaska was warm as a Louisiana bayou? Anchorage Daily News, "Dinosaurs once strode the Bering Land Bridge," 17 May 2020 The Coast Guard was searching a Texas bayou early Tuesday after losing contact with a vessel believed to have four adults and three children on board, officials say. Greg Norman | Fox News, Fox News, "Coast Guard searching for missing Texas boat with 4 adults, 3 children on board," 22 Apr. 2020 Payne jumped into the bayou, saw the woman open her car door and her head emerge from the water followed by her pulling her daughter's head out of the waters. Adam Coleman, Houston Chronicle, "Aldine football player Jayden Payne saves woman, child from flood waters," 19 Sep. 2019 In the evenings, Buckle and his crew drank beer on the top deck, and tossed pizza slices to alligators in the bayou. Ben Taub, The New Yorker, "Thirty-six Thousand Feet," 10 May 2020 No Inner Loop neighborhood was immune to Harvey’s destruction, but the storm’s impact varied greatly, depending in part on how close streets were to a bayou—the waterways that run through the city. Nancy Keates, WSJ, "How Harvey Transformed House-Hunting in Houston," 24 Oct. 2018 The 110-mile-long bayou provides drinking water to about 300,000 people in Lafourche, Terrebonne, Assumption and Ascension parishes. Tristan Baurick,, "Bayou Lafourche paddle trip highlights restoration, Cajun culture," 16 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bayou.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of bayou

1763, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for bayou

borrowed from Louisiana French, earlier bayouque, perhaps borrowed from early Choctaw *bayok, whence Choctaw bo·k "creek, river"

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about bayou

Time Traveler for bayou

Time Traveler

The first known use of bayou was in 1763

See more words from the same year

Statistics for bayou

Last Updated

17 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Bayou.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Aug. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for bayou


How to pronounce bayou (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of bayou

: an area of water in the southern U.S. in which the water moves very slowly and is filled with many plants


bay·​ou | \ ˈbī-ü How to pronounce bayou (audio) , \

Kids Definition of bayou

: a body of water (as a creek) that flows slowly through marshy land

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on bayou

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for bayou

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with bayou

Spanish Central: Translation of bayou

Nglish: Translation of bayou for Spanish Speakers

Comments on bayou

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt painting a young scholar and his tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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