Trend Watch

Houston Storm Damage Drives Lookups of 'Bayou'

Lookups for 'bayou' increased by more than 10,000%

Bayou was among our top lookups all through the weekend of August 26 & 27, as the storm damage being visited upon the city of Houston brought the attention of millions of people to this type of waterway.

After making landfall, the storm took a path that positioned it almost perfectly to drag huge bands of rain out of the gulf and onto the metropolis of Houston, which is interlaced with rivers and bayous and paved over with impervious urban surfaces. Essentially parked near the coastal town of Victoria, Harvey has dumped trillions of gallons of water across southeast Texas.
—Sandhya Somashekhar, The Washington Post, 28 Aug. 2017

Bayou may refer to either "a creek, secondary watercourse, or minor river that is tributary to another body of water" or "any of various usually marshy or sluggish bodies of water."

The word has been in English use since at least 1763, when it was borrowed by Louisiana French, prior to which the word possibly came from the Choctaw bayok.

A leaf for hand in hand; 
You natural persons old and young! 
You on the Mississippi and on all the branches and bayous of the Mississippi! 
You friendly boatmen and mechanics! you roughs! 
You twain! and all processions moving along the streets! 
I wish to infuse myself among you till I see it common for you to walk hand in hand.
—Walt Whitman, A Leaf for Hand in Hand (from Leaves of Grass), 1886 ed.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!