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Definition: bayou from The Penguin English Dictionary

a sluggish marshy tributary of a river or lake, esp in the southern USA [Louisiana French bayou from Choctaw bayuk].


Summary Article: bayou
from The Columbia Encyclopedia

(bī'ō, bī'ō) [Louisiana Fr.; from Choctaw bayuk=small stream], term used mainly in U.S. Gulf states, especially Louisiana and Mississippi, to describe a stationary or sluggishly moving body of water that was once part of a lake, river, or gulf and is swampy or marshy in nature. Bayou is sometimes used as a synonym for oxbow lake, a former meander in a river valley cut off from that stream.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, © Columbia University Press 2018

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