pla·​ya | \ˈplī-ə \

Definition of playa 

: the flat-floored bottom of an undrained desert basin that becomes at times a shallow lake

Examples of playa in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

And each year, festival organizers rescue abandoned bikes (typically coated with bone-white playa dust) and bring them to this nonprofit. Harriot Manley,, "Burning Man comes and goes, but the experience is year-round in Reno," 28 June 2018 The Porta Potties don't leave the playa when the event ends. Jenny Kane, USA TODAY, "The secret life of Burning Man's 1,700 Porta Potties," 9 Sep. 2017 After the electronic and keyboard buildup, at 7:38, an immense bass pattern surged across the playa, apprehended visually as the heat rippling through the white desert. Geoff Dyer, New York Times, "My Obsession With the Necks, the Greatest Trio on Earth," 4 Oct. 2017 As usual, an adventurous set of celebrities and It girls flocked to the desert to soak up the semi-anonymity, experience the unique art and culture, and parade around the playa in their wildest, edgiest, most extravagant outfits. Sarah Lindig, Harper's BAZAAR, "Celebrities Flock to Black Rock City for Burning Man 2016," 5 Sep. 2016 The Panhandle is wetter than normal, leaving the region's playa lakes in good shape. Shannon Tompkins, Houston Chronicle, "Conditions come together for a bountiful waterfowl season," 28 Oct. 2017 At Burning Man, there are millions of lights that shine on the playa, but there are two that are perhaps the most important. Jenny Kane, USA TODAY, "The secret life of Burning Man's 1,700 Porta Potties," 9 Sep. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'playa.' 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 playa

1854, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for playa

Spanish, literally, beach, from Late Latin plagia — more at plage

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about playa

Dictionary Entries near playa





play about


play-action pass

Statistics for playa

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for playa

The first known use of playa was in 1854

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on playa

See words that rhyme with playa

Spanish Central: Translation of playa Encyclopedia article about playa

Comments on playa

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


noxious or harmful

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

A Thanksgiving Word Quiz

  • a-traditional-thanksgiving-dinner
  • November comes from a word for which of the following numbers?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Dictionary Devil

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!