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coulee

[koo-lee]
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noun
  1. Chiefly Western U.S. and Western Canada. a deep ravine or gulch, usually dry, that has been formed by running water.
  2. a small valley.
  3. a low-lying area.
  4. a small intermittent stream.
  5. Geology. a stream of lava.

Origin of coulee

1800–10, Americanism; < Canadian French, French: a flowing, noun use of feminine of coulé, past participle of couler to flow < Latin cōlāre to filter, strain, derivative of cōlum strainer, sieve; cf. colander, portcullis
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for coulee

Historical Examples

  • It was the only course to pursue with anyone from Denson coulee.

    Chip, of the Flying U

    B. M. Bower

  • From the rim of the coulee, the man gazed about him, searching for a familiar landmark.

    Prairie Flowers</p>

    James B. Hendryx

  • Near the mouth of the coulee he crawled through a wire fence.

    Prairie Flowers</p>

    James B. Hendryx

  • We lost one in the river, an' the other pulled us ashore, an' then beat it up the coulee.

    Prairie Flowers</p>

    James B. Hendryx

  • No spear of grass was visible and the rock floor of the coulee was baked and dry.

    Prairie Flowers</p>

    James B. Hendryx


British Dictionary definitions for coulee

coulee

noun
    1. a flow of molten lava
    2. such lava when solidified
  1. Western US and Canadian a dry stream valley, especially a long steep-sided gorge or ravine that once carried melt water from a glacier
  2. a small intermittent stream in such a ravine

Word Origin

C19: from Canadian French coulée a flow, from French, from couler to flow, from Latin cōlāre to sift, purify; see colander
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

Word Origin and History for coulee

n.

"deep ravine, seasonally flooded," 1804, a North American word, originally in areas explored by French trappers, from French coulée "flow" (17c.), from fem. past participle of couler "to flow," from Latin colare "to filter, strain" (see colander).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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