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

  • noun A nearly level area at the bottom of an undrained desert basin, sometimes temporarily covered with water.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun In geology, a general name for the plain of silt or mud that marks the bottom of a desiccated lake-basin in the western United States.
  • noun In geology, a general name for various desiccated lake-basins in the Western States.

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

  • noun A beach; a strand; in the plains and deserts of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, a broad, level spot, on which subsequently becomes dry by evaporation.

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

  • noun a level spot temporarily covered with water which subsequently becomes dry by evaporation; an alkali flat or salt pan.


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

[Spanish, from Late Latin plagia, hillside, shoreline, probably from Greek, sides, from neuter pl. of plagios, oblique, sideways; see plagio–.]


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word playa.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • A playa; also known as an alkali flat, sabkha, or salt flat; is a dry lakebed, generally the shore of, or a remnant of, an endorheic lake. Such flats consist of fine-grained sediments infused with alkali salts. Their surface is generally very dry, hard and smooth in the summer months, but wet and very soft in the winter months. Playas are small, round depressions in the surface of the ground. A playa lake is formed when rain fills this hole with water, creating a small lake. Playas can also form when the water table intersects the surface and water seeps into them.


    February 11, 2008