Imagine a large, sluggish, often stagnant body of water and you are probably thinking about a bayou, a marshy inlet or outlet of a lake or river. Perhaps the most famous bayou in the United States is found in Louisiana.
The term bayou is a true Americanism, most probably evolving in the early 19th Century from the Choctaw word bayuk, meaning "small stream," and making its way into the Louisiana French language. There is a culture specific to the Gulf of Mexico bayou areas from Texas to Florida, a mingling of the early Arcadian settlers, known as "Cajuns," and the Creole culture. The bayou is a fragile ecosystem that is threatened by pollutants and environmental disasters, such as oil spills.