turn the tide, to reverse the course of events, especially from one extreme to another: The Battle of Saratoga turned the tide of the American Revolution.

Origin of tide

before 900; Middle English (noun); Old English tīd time, hour; cognate with Dutch tijd, German Zeit, Old Norse tīth; akin to time
Related formstide·ful, adjectivetide·less, adjectivetide·less·ness, nountide·like, adjective



verb (used without object), tid·ed, tid·ing. Archaic.

to happen or befall.

Origin of tide

before 1000; Middle English tiden, Old English tīdan. See betide Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for tides

Contemporary Examples of tides

Historical Examples of tides

  • At the foot of “The Rapids” the effect of the spring tides is barely perceptible.

  • Into these tides I was now drawn down—and it did me some good and a great deal of harm.

    The Harbor

    Ernest Poole

  • All his life he was an observer of the weather, and a student of the winds and tides.

    Benjamin Franklin

    Paul Elmer More

  • At low spring tides the most beautiful corals and shells are found.

    The Last Voyage

    Lady (Annie Allnutt) Brassey

  • The tides have gradually filled their shallow harbors with silt.

British Dictionary definitions for tides




the cyclic rise and fall of sea level caused by the gravitational pull of the sun and moon. There are usually two high tides and two low tides in each lunar daySee also tide-generating force, neap tide, spring tide
the current, ebb, or flow of water at a specified place resulting from these changes in levelthe tide is coming in
a widespread tendency or movementthe tide of resentment against the government
a critical point in time; turning pointthe tide of his fortunes
Northern English dialect a fair or holiday
(in combination) a season or timeChristmastide
rare any body of mobile water, such as a stream
archaic a favourable opportunity


to carry or be carried with or as if with the tide
(intr) to ebb and flow like the tide
Derived Formstideless, adjectivetidelike, adjective

Word Origin for tide

Old English tīd time; related to Old High German zīt, Old Norse tīthr time




(intr) archaic to happen

Word Origin for tide

Old English tīdan; related to Old Frisian tīdia to proceed to, Middle Low German tīden to hurry, Old Norse tītha to desire
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for tides



Old English tid "point or portion of time, due time," from Proto-Germanic *tidiz "division of time" (cf. Old Saxon tid, Dutch tijd, Old High German zit, German Zeit "time"), from PIE *di-ti- "division, division of time," suffixed form of root *da- "to divide, cut up" (cf. Sanskrit dati "cuts, divides;" Greek demos "people, land," perhaps literally "division of society;" daiesthai "to divide;" Old Irish dam "troop, company").

Meaning "rise and fall of the sea" (mid-14c.) is probably via notion of "fixed time," specifically "time of high water;" either a native evolution or from Middle Low German getide (cf. also Dutch tij, German Gezeiten "flood tide"). Old English seems to have had no specific word for this, using flod and ebba to refer to the rise and fall. Old English heahtid "high tide" meant "festival, high day."



"to carry (as the tide does)," 1620s, from tide (n.). Usually with over. Related: Tided; tiding.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

tides in Medicine




An alternate increase and decrease, as of levels of a substance in the blood or digestive tract.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

tides in Science



The regular rise and fall in the surface level of the Earth's oceans, seas, and bays caused by the gravitational attraction of the Moon and to a lesser extent of the Sun. The maximum high tides (or spring tides) occur when the Moon and Sun are directly aligned with Earth, so that their gravitational pull on Earth's waters is along the same line and is reinforced. The lowest high tides (or neap tides) occur when the Moon and Sun are at right angles to each other, so that their gravitational pull on Earth's waters originates from two different directions and is mitigated. Tides vary greatly by region and are influenced by sea-floor topography, storms, and water currents. See also ebb tide flood tide neap tide spring tide.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

tides in Culture


The periodic rise and fall of the ocean level owing to the gravitational force exerted by the moon and sun.


In most parts of the world, two tide cycles occur each day.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with tides


In addition to the idiom beginning with tide

  • tide over

also see:

  • stem the tide
  • swim against the current (tide)
  • swim with the tide
  • time and tide
  • turn of the tide
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.