"Wading neck deep in a swamp, your revolver is neither use nor ornament until you have had time to clean it" Mary H. Kingsley (1897)

Time And Tide

Time and tide may wait for no man,
but the parish hearse is patient..


“The origin of the phrase “time and tide” is uncertain, although it’s clear that it is ancient, and predates modern English. The earliest known record is from St. Marher, 1225:  “And te tide and te time þat tu iboren were, schal beon iblescet.”

A version in modern English – “the tide abides for, tarrieth for no man, stays no man, tide nor time tarrieth no man” – evolved into the present day version.

The notion of ‘tide’ being beyond man’s control brings up images of the King Canute story. He purposely demonstrated to his courtiers the limits of a king’s power by failing to make the sea obey his command.

That literal interpretation of ‘tide’ in ‘time and tide’ is what is now usually understood, but wasn’t what was meant in the original version of the expression. ‘Tide’ didn’t refer to the contemporary meaning of the word, i.e. the rising and falling of the sea, but to a period of time. When this phrase was coined tide meant a season, or a time, or a while. The word is still with us in that sense in ‘good tidings’, which refers to a good event or occasion and Whitsuntide, noontide etc.”


Picture taken outside the Holy Cross Basilica, Fort Cochin.
Origins of the expression “time and tide” taken from “The Phrase Maker “.

4 responses

  1. Toffeeapple

    There now, you have taught me something new, thank you!

    How is the hearse moved around?

    November 27, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    • Not that I am an expert on hearses, but it is hand pulled..

      November 27, 2011 at 9:54 pm

  2. Toffeeapple

    Thank you.

    November 29, 2011 at 12:10 am

    • And it is kept pretty busy..

      November 29, 2011 at 8:07 am

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