spill·way | \ˈspil-ˌwā \

Definition of spillway 

: a passage for surplus water to run over or around an obstruction (such as a dam)

Examples of spillway in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

When more than 100,000 people were ordered evacuated downstream of Oroville Dam last year amid fears an emergency spillway could collapse, officials moved to open up mass evacuation centers, including one in Sacramento. Rong-gong Lin Ii And Sarah Parvini, sacbee, "The Big One could leave 250,000 to 400,000 quake refugees in California. Where will they go?," 3 June 2018 Every winter, when the spillways of the Detroit dam are opened to make room for spring snowmelt, parts of the old town become visible above the water. Jay Bennett, Popular Mechanics, "Dried-Up Lake Reveals a Forgotten Oregon Town," 4 Jan. 2016 The spillway is the reservoir's primary tool for flushing out massive amounts of water in a quick, controlled way. Joseph Serna, latimes.com, "Atmospheric river brings impressive rain, risk of flooded rivers and test of Oroville Dam's spillway," 7 Apr. 2018 The construction labor supply has grown even tighter because of recent events like the Oroville Dam spillway crisis and wildfires, Rector said. Kayla Fitzgerald, sacbee, "Construction workers in demand at job fair this weekend in Sacramento," 8 June 2018 Below the Lake Wylie Dam in Fort Mill on Monday morning, water thundered down the main spillway and into a free-flowing Catawba rising toward its banks. Michael Gordon, charlotteobserver, "Here's what Charlotte can expect from Alberto," 28 May 2018 The corps opens the spillway to reduce pressure on river levees throughout the New Orleans area, generally limiting water heights at the Carrollton Gage in the city to no higher than 17 feet. Mark Schleifstein, NOLA.com, "Algae bloom, possibly toxic, spreads across Lake Pontchartrain," 26 Mar. 2018 Miller was seen being sucked in through the grate of the north side of the dam at 2:21 a.m. Jared Tims, of Fredericktown, who was fishing on the south side of the dam near the spillway, saw a girl face-down in the water at 2:24 a.m., Richert said. Lou Whitmire, USA TODAY, "18-year-old Ohio woman dies after being sucked through dam spillway," 14 June 2018 After the damage to the dam’s spillways, DigitalGlobe, a satellite imagery company, released images showing the extent of the damage. Lauren Tierney, Washington Post, "Precipitation whiplash and climate change threaten California’s freshwater," 9 May 2018

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

1889, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about spillway

Statistics for spillway

Last Updated

23 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for spillway

The first known use of spillway was in 1889

See more words from the same year

More from Merriam-Webster on spillway

See words that rhyme with spillway

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about spillway

Comments on spillway

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


required by fashion, etiquette, or custom

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble-tiles-that-read-scrabble-quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!