Oxbow lake
An oxbow lake is a U-shaped body of water formed when a wide meander
A meander in general is a bend in a sinuous watercourse. A meander is formed when the moving water in a stream erodes the outer banks and widens its valley. A stream of any volume may assume a meandering course, alternately eroding sediments from the outside of a bend and depositing them on the...

 from the main stem
Main Stem
"Main Stem" is 1942 instrumental by Duke Ellington and His Famous Orchestra. Although recorded in 1942, the single would not be released until 1944 where it was Duke Ellington's last of four number one's on the Harlem Hit Parade. "Main Stem" would also peak at number twenty on the pop chart"Main...

 of a river
A river is a natural watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, a lake, a sea, or another river. In a few cases, a river simply flows into the ground or dries up completely before reaching another body of water. Small rivers may also be called by several other names, including...

 is cut off to create a lake. This landform
A landform or physical feature in the earth sciences and geology sub-fields, comprises a geomorphological unit, and is largely defined by its surface form and location in the landscape, as part of the terrain, and as such, is typically an element of topography...

 is called an oxbow lake for the distinctive curved shape, named after part of a yoke
A yoke is a wooden beam, normally used between a pair of oxen or other animals to enable them to pull together on a load when working in pairs, as oxen usually do; some yokes are fitted to individual animals. There are several types of yoke, used in different cultures, and for different types of oxen...

 for oxen. In Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, an oxbow lake is called a billabong
Billabong is an Australian English word meaning a small lake, specifically an oxbow lake, a section of still water adjacent to a river, cut off by a change in the watercourse. Billabongs are usually formed when the path of a creek or river changes, leaving the former branch with a dead end...

, derived from an indigenous language. The word "oxbow" can also refer to a U-shaped bend in a river or stream, whether or not it is cut off from the main stream.
An oxbow lake is formed when a river creates a meander, due to the river's eroding the bank through hydraulic action and abrasion/corrosion.