bay·​ou ˈbī-(ˌ)ü How to pronounce bayou (audio)
: a creek, secondary watercourse, or minor river that is tributary to another body of water
: any of various usually marshy or sluggish bodies of water

Examples of bayou in a Sentence

a small creek that is the bayou of a larger stream
Recent Examples on the Web Its gentle currents and leafy surroundings reminded him of a calm bayou, quiet but for the intermittent buzzing of insects and the splash of his paddle. Deborah Vankin, Los Angeles Times, 24 Jan. 2024 So Saturday’s game will be the city on the bayou vs. the city on the bay. Michelle Deal-Zimmerman, Baltimore Sun, 16 Jan. 2024 Authorities found Horn's body near a Texas bayou on Jan. 5, according to the police department's statement, and authorities have ruled her death a homicide. Samira Asma-Sadeque, Peoplemag, 15 Jan. 2024 On day three, Louisiana native chef Melissa Martin and her Mosquito Supper Club team will take travelers out on the bayou aboard a fishermen's boat to understand the endangered coastline and rural Cajun culture. Rachel Chang, Travel + Leisure, 23 Oct. 2023 The only way that Helena can put the demon of her father to rest is to return to the Upper Peninsula — a kind of northern bayou — and confront him there. Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 2 Nov. 2023 The first day of December 1982, two animal trappers found Smith, in blue jeans and a T-shirt with a gunshot wound to the head, floating in a shallow river bayou near Seymour, local newspapers reported. Ben Brasch, Washington Post, 1 Nov. 2023 The bayou's course varies from straight-cut with low embankments to serpentine with steeper banks and dense vegetation. Robin Soslow, Chron, 17 Apr. 2023 Chef Isaac Toups subscribes to the latter—much to the benefit of restaurant-goers on his side of the bayou. Patricia Shannon, Southern Living, 8 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'bayou.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1763, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of bayou was in 1763

Dictionary Entries Near bayou

Cite this Entry

“Bayou.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


bay·​ou ˈbī-ō How to pronounce bayou (audio)
: a marshy or slowly flowing body of water (as a stream or inlet)

More from Merriam-Webster on bayou

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