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Wadi (Arabic word) is traditionally a valley. In some cases it can refer to a dry riverbed that contains water only during times of heavy rain. In North Africa the transcription oued is used. In southwestern Africa, the term rivier is used, which is the Afrikaans word for "river". The Hebrew term nachal (נחל) is synonymous in meaning and usage.

Crossing wadis at certain times of the year can be dangerous because of unexpected flash floods. Such flash floods cause several deaths each year in North America and many Middle Eastern countries.

Wadis are the streams in a desert environment and generally are dry year round except after a rain. The desert environment is characterized by a sudden but infrequent heavy rainfall often resulting in flash floods. Deposition in a wadi is rapid because of the sudden loss of stream velocity and seepage of water into the porous sediment. Wadi deposits are thus usually poorly-sorted gravels and sands.

In the Bible, Job speaks of his friends whom he calls brothers as being like these wadis. The Jewish Study Bible transliterated the word "brook" in Job 6:15 for the word "wadi".