In usage in the Southern United States, a bayou (/ /,) is a body of water typically found in a flat, low-lying area; it may refer to an extremely slow-moving stream or river (often with a poorly defined shoreline), a marshy lake or wetland or a creek whose current reverses daily due to tides, which contains brackish water highly conducive to fish life and plankton. Bayous are commonly found in the Gulf Coast region of the southern United States, especially in the Mississippi River Delta. A bayou is frequently an anabranch or minor braid of a braided channel that is moving much slower than the mainstem, often becoming boggy and stagnant. Though fauna varies by region, many bayous are home to crawfish, certain species of shrimp, other shellfish, catfish, frogs, toads, salamanders, newts, American alligators, American crocodiles, herons, lizards, turtles, tortoises, spoonbills, snakes, leeches, as well as many other species.
The word entered American English via Louisiana French in Louisiana and is thought to originate from the Choctaw word bayuk, which means "small stream". The first settlements of the Bayou Têche and other bayous were founded by the Louisiana Creoles, which accounts for why the bayous are commonly associated with Creole and Cajun culture.
Alternative spelling, "buyou", is also known to have been formerly in use, as in "Pine Buyou", used in a description by Congress in 1833 of Arkansas Territory.
The term Bayou Country is most closely associated with Cajun and Creole cultural groups derived from French settlers and stretching along the Gulf Coast from Houston, Texas, to Mobile, Alabama, and picking back up in South Florida around the Everglades with its center in New Orleans, Louisiana.
The word is associated with the Hank Williams recording, "Jambalaya (On the Bayou)", the Roy Orbison and Linda Ronstadt recordings, "Blue Bayou", and the Creedence Clearwater Revival album Bayou Country.
- Bayou Bartholomew
- Bayou Corne
- Bayou La Batre
- Bayou Lafourche
- Bayou St. John
- Bayou Teche
- Big Bayou Canot
- Buffalo Bayou
- Cypress Bayou
- Backswamp – Environment on a floodplain where deposits settle after a flood
- Billabong – Australian term for a seasonal oxbow lake
- Hurricane on the Bayou – 2006 documentary film by Greg MacGillivray
- Oxbow lake – Part of meanders
- Yazoo stream – Hydrologic term
- Bayeux – Subprefecture and commune in Normandy, France
- "bayou". Dictionary.com Unabridged (Online). n.d. Retrieved 2016-08-20.
- Online Etymology Dictionary Archived 2011-06-06 at the Wayback Machine, Dictionnaire de l'Académie française, 9th edition Archived 2012-02-25 at the Wayback Machine
- Shilcutt, Katharine (2016-10-24). "What's a Bayou Anyway?". Houstonia. Archived from the original on 2019-01-02. Retrieved 2019-01-01.
- "Illinois Bayou". Archived from the original on 2019-07-25. Retrieved 2019-07-25.
- "Southwest Paddler". Archived from the original on 2019-09-29. Retrieved 2019-07-25.
- "US vs. Daniel Lewis Lee". Archived from the original on 2019-07-25. Retrieved 2019-07-25.
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