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A bayou ( or ) 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 Gulf Coast region of the southern United Statesmarker, particularly the Mississippi River regionmarker, 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 Louisianamarker 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, Texasmarker, to Mobile, Alabamamarker, with its center in New Orleans, Louisianamarker.

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 popularly perceived as eerie and mysterious.


Video games


Bayou Navigation in Dixie, 1863



See also

Notable bayous

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