In usage in the United States, a
bayou ( ,
is a body of water typically found in a flat, low-lying area, and can be either an extremely slow-moving
 stream or river (often with a poorly defined shoreline), or a marshy lake or wetland. The term bayou can also refer to a creek whose current reverses daily due to tides and which contains
brackish water highly conducive to fish life and plankton. Bayous are sometimes paved to help prevent flooding. Bayous are commonly found in the
Gulf Coast region of the southern United States, notably the
Mississippi River Delta, with the states of
Texas 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 fauna varies by region, many bayous are home to
crawfish, certain species of
leeches, and many other species.
The word was first used by the
Louisiana and is thought to originate from the
Choctaw word "bayuk", which means "small stream".
The first settlements of
 Bayou Teche, and other bayous, were by the
Cajuns, and that is why bayous are associated with Cajun culture.
An alternative spelling, "buyou", has also been used, as in "Pine Buyou", used in a description by Congress in 1833 of
Bayou Country is most closely associated with
Creole cultural groups native to the Gulf Coast region generally stretching from
Houston, Texas, to
Mobile, Alabama, and picking back up in
South Florida around
the Everglades with its center in
New Orleans, Louisiana.
Houston has the nickname "Bayou City". As of 2016 "bye-you" is the most common pronunciation, while a few use "bye-oh", although that pronunciation is declining.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to .