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See more synonyms for spillway on Thesaurus.com
  1. a passageway through which surplus water escapes from a reservoir, lake, or the like.
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Origin of spillway

First recorded in 1885–90; spill1 + way1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

inundation, deluge, gully, creek, stream, sluice, canal, estuary, aqueduct, brook, channel, flume, conduit, gutter, culvert, inlet, chute, drain, gullet, trench

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

British Dictionary definitions for spillway


  1. a channel that carries away surplus water, as from a damAlso called: wasteweir, spill
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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 spillway


1889, from spill + way.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper