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[uh-roi-oh] /əˈrɔɪ oʊ/
noun, plural arroyos.
(chiefly in southwest U.S.) a small steep-sided watercourse or gulch with a nearly flat floor: usually dry except after heavy rains.
Origin of arroyo
1800-10, Americanism; < Spanish; akin to Latin arrūgia mine shaft Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for arroyo
Historical Examples
  • I done some thinkin' along them lines when I seen him standin' up there over the arroyo wavin' his hat at the bullets.

    The Seventh Man Max Brand
  • He was beside her again before she had reached the bed of the arroyo.

    Bloom of Cactus Robert Ames Bennet
  • He nodded toward the head of the arroyo, where lay the garden of the Littlest Girl.

    Heart's Desire Emerson Hough
  • They left the road and struck across country toward the arroyo.

    Across the Mesa Jarvis Hall
  • I need not tell you that our carrying to this Captain arroyo the threats of the General is a sufficiently dangerous errand.

    The Tiger Hunter Mayne Reid
  • The three riders had plunged into the depths of the arroyo and were out on the other 299 side.

    Across the Mesa Jarvis Hall
  • "You've killed Jim Harbin," he added, jerking a thumb toward the arroyo.

    Heart's Desire Emerson Hough
  • The latter turned his horse and rode to the edge of the arroyo.

    Across the Mesa Jarvis Hall
  • No motor can climb up and down the steep switchback to the arroyo Hondo of the Bridge.

  • We stayed by the arroyo all that day and the following night.

    The Scalp Hunters Mayne Reid
British Dictionary definitions for arroyo


noun (mainly Southwestern US) (pl) -os
a steep-sided stream bed that is usually dry except after heavy rain
Word Origin
C19: from Spanish


Gloria Macapagal. born 1947, Filipino stateswoman; vice-president of the Philippines (1998–2001); president (2001–10)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for arroyo

"watercourse, dry streambed," 1845, a California word, from American Spanish, in Spanish, "rivulet, small stream," from Latin arrugia "shaft or pit in a gold mine," apparently a compound of ad- "to" (see ad-) + ruga "a wrinkle" (see rough (adj.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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arroyo in Science
A small, deep gully or channel of an ephemeral stream. Arroyos usually have relatively flat floors and are flanked by steep sides consisting of unconsolidated sediments. They are usually dry except after heavy rainfall.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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