(chiefly in southwest U.S.) a small steep-sided watercourse or gulch with a nearly flat floor: usually dry except after heavy rains.
Historical Examples

I done some thinkin’ along them lines when I seen him standin’ up there over the arroyo wavin’ his hat at the bullets.
The Seventh Man Max Brand

He was beside her again before she had reached the bed of the arroyo.
Bloom of Cactus Robert Ames Bennet

He nodded toward the head of the arroyo, where lay the garden of the Littlest Girl.
Heart’s Desire Emerson Hough

They left the road and struck across country toward the arroyo.
Across the Mesa Jarvis Hall

I need not tell you that our carrying to this Captain arroyo the threats of the General is a sufficiently dangerous errand.
The Tiger Hunter Mayne Reid

The three riders had plunged into the depths of the arroyo and were out on the other 299 side.
Across the Mesa Jarvis Hall

“You’ve killed Jim Harbin,” he added, jerking a thumb toward the arroyo.
Heart’s Desire Emerson Hough

The latter turned his horse and rode to the edge of the arroyo.
Across the Mesa Jarvis Hall

No motor can climb up and down the steep switchback to the arroyo Hondo of the Bridge.
Through Our Unknown Southwest Agnes C. Laut

We stayed by the arroyo all that day and the following night.
The Scalp Hunters Mayne Reid

noun (mainly Southwestern US) (pl) -os
a steep-sided stream bed that is usually dry except after heavy rain
Gloria Macapagal. born 1947, Filipino stateswoman; vice-president of the Philippines (1998–2001); president (2001–10)

“watercourse, dry streambed,” 1845, a California word, from American Spanish, in Spanish, “rivulet, small stream,” from Latin arrugia “shaft or pit in a gold mine,” apparently a compound of ad- “to” (see ad-) + ruga “a wrinkle” (see rough (adj.)).
A small, deep gully or channel of an ephemeral stream. Arroyos usually have relatively flat floors and are flanked by steep sides consisting of unconsolidated sediments. They are usually dry except after heavy rainfall.


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