from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Western US A deep gulch or ravine with sloping sides, often dry in summer.
  • noun A streambed, often dry according to the season.
  • noun A small stream, bayou, or canal.
  • noun Upper Midwest A valley with hills on either side.
  • noun A stream of molten lava.
  • noun A sheet of solidified lava.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A dry ravine or gulch; a channel worn by running water in times of excessive rainfall or by the sudden melting of the snow.
  • noun A flow: used principally, by some geologists, of lava-flows.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Geol.) A stream.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A stream.
  • noun geology A lava flow.
  • noun US A deep gulch or ravine, frequently dry in summer.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Canadian French coulée, from French, flow, from couler, to flow, from Latin cōlāre, to filter, from cōlum, sieve.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From French coulée ("flow"), from couler ("to flow")


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  • the strain of rain

    December 2, 2008

  • In the Northwest U.S. a coulee is a gulch carved out of basalt rock by the great Missoula Floods: A dry canyon eroded by Pleistocene floods that cut into the lava beds of the Columbia Plateau in the western United States. These coulees have steep sides and never were stream beds. The Grand Coulee in Eastern Washington State is the largest and best known.

    April 8, 2009

  • "He heads off down a small coulee, staying hidden until he is on the far side of the cattle, trots right to pull in the herd, back left to tighten the flank, and moves in expertly from behind to push them forward. More than a hundred and fifty years of inventive selective breeding has created the perfect cowpoke on four legs. Gary watches his partner at work, always amazed that a dog with no formal training knows instinctively from an early age exactly what has to be done."

    —Merrily Weisbord and Kim Kachanoff, Dogs with Jobs: Working Dogs Around the World (NY and London: Pocket Books, 2000), 98

    July 28, 2009