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A bayou (pronounced /ˈbaɪ.oʊ/ or /ˈbaɪjuː/) is a body of water typically found in flat, low-lying areas, and can either refer to an extremely slow-moving stream or river (often with a poorly defined shoreline), or to a marshy lake or wetland. Bayous are commonly found in the Mississippi River region of the southern United States, with the state of Louisiana being famous for them. A bayou is frequently an anabranch or minor braid of a braided channel that is moving much more slowly than the mainstem, often becoming boggy and stagnant, though the vegetation varies by region. Many bayous are home to crawfish, certain species of shrimp, other shellfish, catfish, alligators, and myriad other species.

The word was first used by the English in Louisiana and is thought to originate from the Choctaw word bayuk, which means "small stream." Another theory on the origin of bayou is from the French words bas lieu (pronounced phonetically as ba-li-you) meaning "low place". 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.


In Fiction

Bayous are often the setting of horror stories as they are commonly seen as spooky and mysterious.



Video Games

  • The house of the dead: Overkill


File:Bayou Navigation in Dixie,
Bayou Navigation in Dixie, 1863



See also

Notable bayous


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Alternative forms


From American French bayou, from Choctaw bayuk (creek).




bayou (plural bayous)

  1. A creek.
  2. A very slow-moving creek.
  3. A swamp.
  4. (Can we verify(+) this sense?) 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.


  • Anagrams of abouy
  • boyau


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