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[spil-wey] /ˈspɪlˌweɪ/
a passageway through which surplus water escapes from a reservoir, lake, or the like.
Origin of spillway
First recorded in 1885-90; spill1 + way1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for spillway
Historical Examples
  • You know its location: a mile, perhaps, from Gatun Dam and the spillway.

    Raiders Invisible Desmond Winter Hall
  • It also serves as a spillway over which the surplus water escapes.

    Electricity for the farm Frederick Irving Anderson
  • It could only race and swirl along one channel, and that was the spillway of memories.

    The Tyranny of Weakness Charles Neville Buck
  • Here they could erect their spillway for the control of the water in the lake above.

    The Panama Canal

    Frederic Jennings Haskin
  • The first stop was at the concrete work on the spillway dam at Miraflores.

    The Panama Canal

    Frederic Jennings Haskin
  • The spillway itself contains 225,485 cubic yards of concrete.

    The Panama Canal J. Saxon Mills
  • They are, briefly, the construction of the Gatun dam and its spillway.

  • There was a little song of waters gurgling down the spillway that was once only a dry draw choked with wild plum bushes.

    Winning the Wilderness Margaret Hill McCarter
  • Water was flowing over a spillway three feet wide at one end of the dam.

    The Chief Engineer Henry Abbott
  • You can keep the big fish out by screening the spillway at the upper dam.

British Dictionary definitions for spillway


a channel that carries away surplus water, as from a dam Also called wasteweir, spill
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 spillway

1889, from spill + way.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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