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

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Synonyms & Antonyms for bayou


affluent, branch, confluent, feeder, influent, tributary


distributary, effluent

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Examples of bayou in a Sentence

a small creek that is the bayou of a larger stream

Recent Examples on the Web

After a big dinner of beef Wellington and burgundy mushrooms, the guests—some 25—went outside to a dock overlooking the bayou and sat around a bonfire. Nancy Keates, WSJ, "This Florida Home Fights Fires," 27 Feb. 2019 Cajun Encounters Tour Company Cajun Encounters takes you 45 minutes from French Quarter beignets and Bourbon Street nonsense, but the bayou feels a world away. Paul Oswell, Condé Nast Traveler, "15 Best Things To Do In New Orleans," 4 Mar. 2018 Despite being warned that the gator was potentially dangerous, a man jumped into the bayou at night. Shannon Tompkins, Houston Chronicle, "Wildlife is wild, so admire from afar," 13 June 2018 The young mother had been stabbed 11 times with an ice pick and left along the slope of a Houston bayou. Keri Blakinger, Houston Chronicle, "Houston serial killer denied clemency 2 days before scheduled execution," 25 June 2018 Her journey through the Louisiana bayou in search of an antidote eventually ends with her back in human form—and married to a handsome prince. Erich Schwartzel, WSJ, "Disney Reanimates Portions of Upcoming Film After Criticism for Lightening Black Character’s Skin," 20 Sep. 2018 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 From time to time, when the bayou was low, especially daring Houstonians would go on foraging missions that sometimes had deadly consequences. Chris Gray, Houston Chronicle, "Expansive exhibit highlights Houston’s quiet but vital role during Civil War," 11 July 2018 The festival takes place May 25-27 on the grounds of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral, on the bayou where Robert E. Lee Boulevard meets St. Bernard Avenue. Ann Maloney,, "New Orleans Greek Fest invites you to dine, wine on the bayou," 22 May 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.

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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"

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More Definitions for bayou



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

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More from Merriam-Webster on bayou

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with bayou

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for bayou

Spanish Central: Translation of bayou

Nglish: Translation of bayou for Spanish Speakers

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