"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)

Posts tagged “Time and tide

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 “.