A stream is a body of water with a current, confined within a bed and stream banks. Depending on its location or certain characteristics, a stream may be referred to as a branch, brook, beck, burn, creek, crick, gill (occasionally ghyll), kill, lick, mill race, rill, river, syke, bayou, rivulet, streamage, wash, run, or runnel.
Streams are important as conduits in the water cycle, instruments in groundwater recharge, and corridors for fish and wildlife migration. The biological habitat in the immediate vicinity of a stream is called a riparian zone. Given the status of the ongoing Holocene extinction, streams play an important corridor role in connecting fragmented habitats and thus in conserving biodiversity. The study of streams and waterways in general is known as surface hydrology and is a core element of environmental geography.