bayou (bĪˈō, bĪˈō) [key] [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.
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