ar·​royo ə-ˈrȯi-(ˌ)ō How to pronounce arroyo (audio)
plural arroyos
: a watercourse (such as a creek) in an arid region
: a water-carved gully or channel

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office also found a photo on the cellphone of armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed that showed an unidentified man shooting a pistol in a New Mexico arroyo several days before the tragedy. Meg James, Los Angeles Times, 18 Nov. 2022 Watching fire run through sequoias is like watching water return to a desert arroyo that hasn’t been wet in a hundred years. Kyle Dickman, Outside Online, 13 July 2022 Predictably, a big crowd favorite was Orville Peck, whose boomy, lonesome vocals are deeper than any arroyo (Seco or otherwise). Chris Willman, Variety, 10 July 2022 Across the arroyo, in Mt. Washington, a ravine park is named for 1920s subdivider Carlin G. Smith. Los Angeles Times, 3 May 2022 Boris, 29, ran across the muddy arroyo of the Rio Grande on Dec. 3 from Ciudad Juárez to El Paso. Washington Post, 17 Dec. 2021 Far closer, a gang of 30 to 40 dark javelina barreled up a nearby arroyo. San Antonio Express-News, 18 Oct. 2019 Just below La Cachucha at the edge of a deep arroyo was a hairpin turn to the left. San Antonio Express-News, 18 Oct. 2019 Native rainbow trout and arroyo chubs were once abundant across Southern California. Los Angeles Times, 17 Sep. 2019 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'arroyo.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from Spanish, probably of pre-Latin substratal origin

Note: The word arroyo is traditionally compared with Latin arrugia, a word used by Pliny (Historia naturalis 33.70) for galleries excavated into mountainsides in the Iberian peninsula to extract gold. Presumably the word was extended from the sense "artificial passageway" to "natural passageway" (or vice versa, if "natural passageway" was the original sense). In medieval documents of Asturias, from 775 on, arogium and variants occur as latinized forms of the vernacular word.

First Known Use

1777, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of arroyo was in 1777

Dictionary Entries Near arroyo

Cite this Entry

“Arroyo.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


ar·​royo ə-ˈrȯi-ə How to pronounce arroyo (audio)
plural arroyos
: a waterway (as a creek) in a dry region
: an often dry gully or channel carved by water

More from Merriam-Webster on arroyo

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