The term gut is a reduction of gutter, and along the East Coast it applies to a number of water features with gutterlike characteristics of drainage, outflow, narrow passage. In tidal areas a gut is a small channel through a marsh. Farther inland it may be the outlet stream draining a lake or swamp. Alternatively, it may be a narrow passway through a swamp, or simply a narrow section of a creek or river. In the South it is sometimes used to designate a cut-off—or nearly cut-off—meander of a river. It appears frequently as a place-name: Devils Gut along the Roanoke River in North Carolina, Horsepen Gut in the Congaree National Park of South Carolina. John Bartram, an eighteenth-century American naturalist, used the word this way in his Florida journals: “Near the store was a deep gut with a middling stream of water, which headed about a quarter of a mile up in the pine-lands.”

Charles Frazier