I need to succinctly and more-or-less poetically describe a dry lake. As in, a lake that is no longer a lake proper, cuz it is no longer full of water. "It was at the bottom of a dry lake."

Problem is that it's raining heavily, and this not-a-lake is muddy, not dry. Little details like that really bug me! What's the most to-the-point term I can use that's stylistically right for dramatic prose?

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    See en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dry_lake.
    – Xanne
    Commented Jun 28, 2022 at 23:28
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    Former lakes -- usually deep underground -- are extremely important paleolontological sources for past climate and biological details. While a lake is present, it records the pollen and other evidence, every year, separated by seasons. Lakes often last centuries, which is a nice overlapping record, like tree rings; there have been a lot of lakes over the past millions of years. Oh, and they're all dry, naturally, so they're just called "lakes". Commented Jun 29, 2022 at 1:35
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    You're describing an ephemeral lake
    – Phil Sweet
    Commented Jun 29, 2022 at 2:06
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    You could perhaps call it a "lakebed" or "basin". If it sometimes fills with rain (as you suggest), then it could be a "floodplain". Commented Jun 29, 2022 at 3:00
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    There's also seasonal lake or intermittent lake, generally for places that are lakes in the wet season but not in the dry season.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jun 29, 2022 at 8:41

2 Answers 2


According to Wiktionary, the lakebed suggested in a comment should work:

The bottom of a lake, especially after the lake has gone dry. Usage notes: Though the word lakebed itself typically implies that the lake has gone dry, the phrase dry lakebed is frequently used for additional clarity.

If you want to talk about the muddy state, that could be clarified too. I can't suggest anything specific because I don't know the particulars, e.g., why is it no longer a proper lake, what the amount of water or moisture is in the various seasons, and whether there are any streams that feed in or out.


You can perhaps use bog (or swamp or marsh or other synonyms like quagmire which may subjectively sound more poetic, perhaps).

Google dictionary (Google search for "define bog"):

bog noun

  1. an area of wet muddy ground that is too soft to support a heavy body. "a peat bog"

To perhaps paraphrase part of your question, and as an intended pun, you could perhaps say, "Little details like that really bog me down."

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