flood plain

a nearly flat plain along the course of a stream or river that is naturally subject to flooding.
Also, floodplain.


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World English Dictionary
flood plain
the flat area bordering a river, composed of sediment deposited during flooding

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
floodplain   (flŭd'plān')  Pronunciation Key 
Flat land bordering a river and made up of alluvium (sand, silt, and clay) deposited during floods. When a river overflows, the floodplain is covered with water.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Encyclopedia Britannica


flat land area adjacent to a stream, composed of unconsolidated sedimentary deposits (alluvium) and subject to periodic inundation by the stream. Floodplains are produced by lateral movement of a stream and by overbank deposition; therefore they are absent where downcutting is dominant. Any erosional widening of one bank is approximately equalled by deposition on the opposite side of the channel in the form of bar development along the inside of meander bends. Thus, the simplest floodplain is made up of a strip of sinuous scrolls immediately adjacent to the stream.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
Back then, much of the territory was an immense, waterlogged floodplain.
In coming days the water will reach the coast, joining tidal waters and
  inundating the floodplain.
Farmers in the floodplain build houses and barns on stilts and watch pink
  dolphins sport from their doorsteps.
And right around the river, sloping gently down to the lakeshore, was a
  floodplain of silt and clay.
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