head·​wa·​ter ˈhed-ˌwȯ-tər How to pronounce headwater (audio)
: the source of a stream
usually used in plural

Example Sentences

the first exploration of the Missouri River from its mouth to its headwaters was made by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark in the early 1800s
Recent Examples on the Web Galena Falls is a hiker’s reward — a headwater tumble over a granite ledge about 2.5 miles along the Mount Rose Trail. Carrie Dennis, Travel + Leisure, 26 Feb. 2023 The technique can indicate whether an endangered species persists in a headwater stream, for example, or whether an invasive fish has reached a new lake. Erik Stokstad, Science | AAAS, 3 Dec. 2020 The health of our major waterways — rivers, lakes and streams — emanates directly from headwater stream health, and these waterways feed into underground aquifers that supply clean drinking water to humans. Sarah Jay, Discover Magazine, 6 Dec. 2021 At this part of the river, about 80 miles into its 195-mile journey from Big Chino Valley, where underground headwater springs bubble up to form surface flows, many of the trees have been felled by private builders seeking river views. Joan Meiners, The Arizona Republic, 16 Nov. 2022 The project is moving fast with the city earlier this year purchasing the land, which is a meadow habitat with forested patches and 1,900 linear feet of West Creek headwater tributaries, for $880,000 from OSWIGI Limited. John Benson, cleveland, 11 Aug. 2021 The current plan calls for roughly a 3,000-foot, ADA-accessible trail to traverse the perimeter of the land, which is a meadow habitat with forested patches and 1,900 linear feet of West Creek headwater tributaries. John Benson, cleveland, 2 June 2021 The project, Jane explains, poses a major threat to the environment; the pipelines would traverse two hundred bodies of water, including the headwater of the Mississippi River. Javier Hasse, Forbes, 11 May 2021 Baldwin Creek and two headwater tributary streams run through the preserve, and the area is a habitat for many plant and animal species. Rich Heileman, cleveland, 13 Nov. 2020 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

1612, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of headwater was in 1612

Dictionary Entries Near headwater

Cite this Entry

“Headwater.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/headwater. Accessed 26 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


head·​wa·​ter -ˌwȯt-ər How to pronounce headwater (audio)
: the beginning and upper part of a stream
usually used in plural
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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