AskDefine | Define bayou

Dictionary Definition

bayou n : a swampy arm or slow-moving outlet of a lake (term used mainly in Mississippi and Louisiana)

User Contributed Dictionary



From Louisiana French, from Choctaw language bayuk


  1. A creek.
  2. A very slow-moving creek.
  3. A swamp.
  4. An inlet from the Gulf of Mexico, from a lake, or from a large river, sometimes sluggish, sometimes without perceptible movement except from tide and wind.

Usage notes

  • Used almost exclusively to refer to the bodies of water in Louisiana and the adjoining areas, including southern Mississippi, eastern Texas, and Arkansas.

Extensive Definition

This article is about a water landform. For other uses, see Bayou (disambiguation)
A bayou (pronounced [ˈbaɪ oʊ] or [ˈbaɪ uː]) is a small, slow-moving stream or creek, or a lake or pool (bayou lake) that lies in an abandoned channel of a stream. Bayous are usually located in relatively flat, low-lying areas, for example, in the Mississippi River delta region of the southern United States. A bayou is frequently a slackwater anabranch or minor braid of a braided channel, that is moving with less velocity than the mainstem. Many bayous are the home of crawfish, certain species of shrimp, other shellfish, and catfish.
The word was first used by the English in Louisiana and is thought to originate from the Choctaw word bayuk, which means "small stream." The first settlements of Acadians in southern Louisiana were near Bayou Lafourche and Bayou des Ecores, which led to a close association of the bayou with Cajun culture.
Bayou Country is most closely associated with Cajun and Creole cultural groups native to the Gulf Coast region generally stretching from Houston, Texas, to Mobile, Alabama, with its center in New Orleans, Louisiana.
An alternate spelling "buyou" has also been used, as in the "Pine Buyou" used in a description by Congress in 1833 of Arkansas Territory.
Houston is known as the "Bayou City," primarily because of the expansive, muddy, miles-long Buffalo Bayou that twists and turns its way through the fourth-largest city in the United States. Other major bayous in Houston include Brays Bayou, Sims Bayou, White Oak Bayou, and Greens Bayou.
Bayous are many times the settings of horror movies since they are commonly seen as quite spooky and mysterious. With the trees and unknown creatures that lurk in the murky waters, it creates a sense of suspense. Some famous horror movies that are associated or take place in bayous include The Skeleton Key, Hatchet, and The Reaping.

See also

The term “bayou” is also a derogatory term used to describe someone who is from the bayou. Similar to how white trash is used to describe someone from a trailer park.
bayou in German: Altarm
bayou in French: Bayou
bayou in Ido: Bayo
bayou in Japanese: バイユー (地形)

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

affluent, arm, armlet, bay, belt, bight, billabong, boca, branch, confluent, confluent stream, cove, creek, dendritic drainage pattern, effluent, estuary, euripus, feeder, fjord, fork, frith, gulf, gut, harbor, inlet, kyle, loch, mouth, narrow, narrow seas, narrows, natural harbor, prong, reach, road, roads, roadstead, slough, sound, strait, straits, tributary
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