A billabong (, ) is an oxbow lake, an isolated pond left behind after a river changes course. Billabongs are usually formed when the path of a creek or river changes, leaving the former branch with a dead end. Billabongs, reflecting the arid Australian climate in which these "dead rivers" are found, fill with water seasonally and are dry for a greater part of the year.〔USGS (Definitions of Selected Geomorphic Terms and Related Terms of Hydrology, Sedimentology, Soil Science, and Ecology ), USGS Open File Report 2008-1217.〕
The etymology of the word ''billabong'' is disputed. The word is most likely derived from the Wiradjuri term ''bilabaŋ'', which means "a watercourse that runs only after rain" and is derived from ''bila'', meaning "river",〔"billabong." The Macquarie Dictionary. South Yarra: The Macquarie Library Pty Ltd., 2005. Credo Reference. Web. 19 January 2012.〕 and possibly ''bong'' or ''bung'', meaning "dead". One source, however, claims that the term is of Scottish Gaelic origin.〔(Skilton, St J. ''The Survey of Scottish Gaelic in Australia and New Zealand'' ), p. 300. Quote: A respondent to his survey said: ''"'Bill' = 'bile' = 'lip or mouth' and 'abong' is from 'abhainn' = 'river' with a parasitic 'G' added. A billabong probably has a mouth shape of sorts being at a bend in a river."'' University of Fribourg, Switzerland, June 2004. Last accessed 15 March 2008〕
Billabongs attained significance as they held water longer than parts of rivers and it was therefore important for people to name these areas.〔(Clarke, R. "Australianisms in 'Waltzing Matilda'" ), Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, 10 December 2003. Last accessed 5 November 2009.〕〔(Ludowyk, F. "Of Billy, Bong, Bung, & 'Billybong'" ), Australian National University, no date. Last accessed 15 March 2008〕〔("billabong" ), ''Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online''. Accessed 15 March 2008〕
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