Definition of winterbourne in US English:



  • A stream, typically on chalk or limestone, which flows only after wet weather.

    • ‘The winterbournes were flowing from the chalk uplands of Wessex.’
    • ‘The upper sections of many of the rivers and streams in northern and western Hertfordshire operate as winterbournes, with the effective source of the river moving up and down the valley with the seasons.’
    • ‘Exceptional periods of rain can cause groundwater flooding from springs and winterbournes which inundate roads and overwhelm drainage systems.’
    • ‘The ecology of true winterbournes results from their transient nature and information on their ecology is limited.’
    • ‘As usual, winterbournes will fail and the stream network shrink through the summer but, in the event of continuing limited rainfall, the hydrological impact will be felt most keenly in streams draining impermeable catchments.’
    brook, rivulet, rill, runnel, streamlet, freshet
    View synonyms


Old English winterburna (see winter, burn).