“To Tide You Over”

background image 33

Carol Dedrick wonders about the expression “to tide one over”:

A quick Google search found most folks believe the saying to be “tide me over” vs. “tie me over.” I did find one seemingly credible site [that] supported the opposite. Do you know the origin of the statement, and the correct version?

I found the site that defends the error “tie me over.” The blogger is very firm in his/her contention, but presents nothing more than personal opinion to support it.

The word tide is from the Old English word for “time” or “season.” Yuletide, for example, means “the season of Yule.” German Zeit is cognate with tide.

“Tide” meaning “rise and fall of the sea” came into use in the 14th century. This meaning derived from the notion of “fixed time of high water.” Old English used the words flod for high tide and ebba for low tide. Tide as a verb is recorded from the 1620s.

Here’s the OED’s definition of the expression “to tide over”:

to get over or surmount (a difficulty, time of stress, etc.) as if by rising on the flowing tide, or by taking advantage of a favourable tide.

Speakers to whom the expression “tide over” is unfamiliar mistakenly write “tie over”:

Journal Page To Tie You Over

Oftentimes, A Fast Cash Advance Loan Can Tie You Over Those Lean Moments

To tie you over until our full … review lands, here’s a first look at the opening levels of the campaign

It should be enough to tie you over until you find yourself a new boyfriend.

Perhaps these writers see the image of people clinging to a rope, rather than someone in a ship being borne up and carried by the tide.

Stop making those embarrassing mistakes! Subscribe to Daily Writing Tips today!

You will improve your English in only 5 minutes per day, guaranteed!

Each newsletter contains a writing tip, word of the day, and exercise!

You'll also get three bonus ebooks completely free!

34 thoughts on ““To Tide You Over””

  1. My niece and I refer to a snack as a “tide-me,” since it’s something to tide you over until lunch or dinner.

    “I’m starving. When will dinner be ready?”
    “Not for another hour.”
    “Yikes. I better have a tide-me.”

  2. @Amy: Love the “tide-me” phrase!! Reminds me of a story about my former mother-in-law, who had to deal with the same situation. She used to tell the kids, “Have a Tic-Tac, only 1-1/2 calories and it’ll tide you over.” LOL.

    Meanwhile, this “tie you over” thing is making me cringe!! Ewww! sounds horrible.

  3. With regard to your “Journal Page to Tie me over,” the example you cited, “Oftentimes, A Fast Cash Advance Loan Can Tie You Over Those Lean Moments,” fits in with the “Tie you over, if you’re strapped for cash, concept — i.e., strapped, tie.

  4. The meaning of the phrase is actually using or having something to “tie” (as in connect like attach with a knot) the two events together through “over” the time interval.

    People like the word “tide” in the phrase indicating an action, but tide isn’t a verb. Tide is a noun and it’s typical of illiterate people to invent verbs (action words in case you weren’t paying attention in grade school) by just using a noun (things, people, places, objects- also in case you weren’t paying attention in grade school) that sounds good in place of the verb.

    It’s funny to see people making justifications for illiteracy. Like the word “three-peat” the root of “repeat” isn’t “peat”, or “one-peat”, or “two-peat”. just because it sounds catchy doesn’t make it an intelligent use of language. The correct phrase would have been “third time” or “triple” which are correct use.

    Of course as with most sports announcers who confuse metaphors, like golf people who use “line drive” which refers to a baseball being hit parallel to the baselines, the sports announcer that coined “three-peat” didn’t learn to think before he speaks.

    But it makes for entertaining listening, until supposedly educated people pick up the stupid misused words or phrases and “four-peat”, “five-peat”, or “sixty-seven-peat” them ignorantly.

  5. In regards to Lilia, I have never heard anyone use any of these phrases you mention. And I have to wonder why get your panties in such a bunch over it all? If you really want to be correct in your grammar why not go back to speaking oh say ancient Egyptian and writing in hieroglyphs for instance. Haven’t you realized by now that language is always being reinvented and evolves? It would have to otherwise we wouldn’t have any language at all to describe all the varying ways you seem to be a stuck up know nothing imbecile who decided to be the grammar nazi on some obscure site to feel better about their own intelligence.
    Also, the expression really truly is “to tide me over/tide you over/ tide us over” etc. Not tie.

  6. Edward Meyrick Goulburn’s book The Pursuit of Holiness of 1869: “As an exuberant mounting flood shall tide us over the difficulties of our career”.
    Tides rise and allow ships in and they ebb and prevent ships from passing. To tide over something is the reference. What are your references for using the word tie? Most people do not do their research.
    If you are looking for an older reference, perhaps Brutus’s comment, in Julius Caesar: “There is a Tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the Flood, leads on to Fortune”.

    This sentence, no verb.

  7. Lilia, I think you are confusing illiteracy with simple bad grammar. Also, the beauty of language is that evolves, just because words or phrases are not definitively correct, does not mean that they are invalid or lack meaning. How do you think we ended up with the interesting and quirky phrases we are able to take such delight in?

  8. Lilla,

    “tide” over is a phrasal verb. Wow you just learnt something and you can stop crying. The worst enemies of any language are peeps like you.

  9. I always thought it was “Tie me over” and my explanation was that it meant you would be secure for the time being.

  10. To: Starsage

    You said, “This sentence, no verb.” Do you actually consider that a sentence, or was that a joke? In dialogue you can say that, its not proper grammer though. This is not a possible English sentence.

    Try walking up to someone and saying “This sentence, no verb.” and see if you sound like a cave man, you will.

    The proper sentence would have to be “This sentence has no verb”. Both clauses “This sentence” and “no verb” are dependent clauses. Your sentence has no independent clause or complete thought.

    Yes, I am nit picking ha ha. I like your attempt! If you can come up with a possible sentence without a verb, I will be impressed.

    – Cheers!

  11. I think “tie you over” is especially appropriate for a payday loan as in “tie you over a barrel and extract a pound of flesh”. But if it will really “tide you over” or just put you further in debt is a totally different question.

  12. Lilia – good grief. I am all for grammar nazis but come on! You are so far off track. Germane much? Three-peat was trademarked by Pat Riley after the Lakers won two championships in a row. He was expecting his Lakers to win a third. But come on. I believe the term my father-in-law uses for people like you is BlowHard.

  13. To “Not me”

    There is no such a word as “grammer” unless you are speaking of Kelsey Grammer. I think you meant “grammar”.

    Your use of “its” in the sentence “In dialogue you can say that, its not proper grammer though.” is not correct. “Its” is the possessive form of “it”. I think you meant to use the contraction of “it is”, which is spelt “it’s”. [if you are American then “spelled”]

  14. Maeve, thank you for tackling this phrase. While I have said it many times before, I said it this morning, and suddenly realized how strange it is. I had to know its origins. Thank you, NEB, for the other helpful reference.

    To “Not me”:

    Before you criticize another’s grammar, perhaps you should work on your own. In addition to the mistakes mentioned by Kal, on two separate occasions, you join independent clauses with a comma and no conjunction. The appropriate punctuation is a semicolon.

    “He who lives in a glass house should not throw stones.” or “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

  15. For the reasons I give above, I do not typically point out grammar mistakes unless they are made by someone pointing out someone else’s mistakes. Before someone takes the opportunity to do the same to me, my second sentence above should not have a comma after “morning.”

  16. For people defending “tie me over”… Merriam-Webster recognizes “tide over” but not “tie over”.

  17. “Spelt” is an archaic form of wheat. I’m just kidding. Woah, people sure get upset to discover they are speaking gibberish. I believed the saying to be “tide me over,” but was uncertain so I googled it. We are not so much a sea-faring people as in days of old, so I can understand why “tie you over” seems possibly correct. I mostly surf the web, and not so much as to record its tidal movements.

  18. I thought it was Tie as in, a music tie, which tells the musician to carry on to the next bar. I liked this better. I am sad now.

  19. As a musician, “tie me over” makes sense… In music, you can tie a note to another across a bar line to lengthen its time value. It has nothing to do with knots and rope. Also, “tie” is a verb, so I’ll have a snack to tie me over till supper time.

  20. Maybe some make the “tie” error by conflating “tide you over” with the somewhat similar-sounding expression “tie one on” (even though that means something altogether else).

  21. I believe Starsage is correct. The phrase comes from nautical times when sailing ships would wait for the tidal currents to carry them in the absence of wind. In other words, they would float with the tide. The earliest known use is from 1627 where Captain John Smith wrote, “To Tide over to a place, is to go over with the Tide of ebbe or flood, and stop the contrary by anchoring till the next Tide.” The phrase has evolved over the years as many phrases (especially nautical ones) tend to do. And that is the bitter end, my friends.

  22. ever hear of “tithe?” both noun and verb. as in “tithe one over.” it implies chipping in a bit more to make up the difference or more specifically to cover the cost that prevents the accomplishments or outcomes desired from being reached without a bit of extra funding in the field, before more funding can be allocated or secured.
    i can’t believe no one has “tied” to think outside of the “tide” box. no, wait, eye can.

  23. and how about “grammatically correct” versus “proper grammer (sic)?” “obviously illiterate” comes to mind… and if only it would stay there…

    and “learnt?” to continue that line ( or dot) of reasoning “shan” we just try modern english, pip?

    stupid is as pretentious writes. or “rights,” if that makes it easier for you to misunderstand and misinform.

  24. How would one use the phrase “tide him over” in the past tense? Example, “He is going to get a loan to tide him over.” It’s incorrect to say, “He got a loan yesterday which tided him over.”

    However, if we say, “He is going to get a loan to tie him over,” we can later say, “He got a loan which tied him over.”

    Or is someone going to suggest that tide is used both in the present and past tenses?

  25. “Tide me over” sounds negative, like something is drowning me. And considering tide has no past tense, tided?, it becomes a less useful phrase. Tie, as in a musical note which extends, is better suited to that phrase, the defintion is more suitable, and it makes much more sense. Think what happens when the tide washes over you. You come up sputtering, coughing, and gagging. You weren’t tide over; you were beat down.

  26. Den,
    All verbs have a past tense form.
    The past tense of the verb “tide,” as in the expression “to tide over,” is “tided.”
    Your example—“He got a loan yesterday which tided him over”—is perfectly correct.

  27. @ Lilia,
    You seem to perhaps need help with either baseball or geometry. A line drive is a sharply hit ball that travels roughly parallel to the plane of the field. Your definition restricts, “line drives” to only balls hit directly down the first or third base lines, including perhaps even fly balls or grounders.

  28. I’m living for all of the people dragging @Lilia Silva. What a pretentious stuck snob you are. I’ll bet you’re the life of every party you attend. Language isn’t math language evolves and changes with time. At one time it was perfectly proper to say it snew, but now if you were say that people like you would jump down someone’s throat for being grammatically incorrect. Get over yourself honey. You make speak proper English, but with an attitude like that who wants speak to you?

  29. I’m living for all of the people dragging @Lilia Silva. What a pretentious stuck snob you are. I’ll bet you’re the life of every party you attend. Language isn’t math language evolves and changes with time. At one time it was perfectly proper to say it snew, but now if you were say that people like you would jump down someone’s throat for being grammatically incorrect. Get over yourself honey. You make speak proper English, but with an attitude like that who wants speak to you?
    noun: tide; plural noun: tides

    the alternate rising and falling of the sea, usually twice in each lunar day at a particular place, due to the attraction of the moon and sun.
    “the changing patterns of the tides”
    the water as affected by the tide.
    “the rising tide covered the wharf”
    synonyms: tidal flow, ebb and flow, flood, water, tidewater, tide race, ebb, surge, current, stream, movement
    “ships come up the river with the tide”
    a powerful surge of feeling or trend of events.
    “he drifted into sleep on a tide of euphoria”
    synonyms: course, movement, direction, trend, current, drift, run, turn, tendency, tenor, swing
    “the whole tide of history seemed to be quickening”

    verb: tide; 3rd person present: tides; past tense: tided; past participle: tided; gerund or present participle: tiding


  30. Drag Hal and all others who may have said something unkind about Lilla Silva–
    It should be possible to disagree and critique without insulting people.

    Lilla Silva,
    Your examples are questionable. The second definition in the OED for “tide” as a verb is “To carry, as the tide does.” Another definition: “To carry through (an undertaking) ; to enable (a person) to surmount (a difficulty, etc.) as on a swelling tide.”
    The “tie” explanation is popular etymology. Some speakers may prefer it to the “tide” version, but the origin of the expression points to being carried by the tide.

  31. After reading the comments, I am still confused. What is the final verdict? Are both “tide” and “tie” acceptable? Or the correct one is “tide”.

  32. Heng,
    “Tide one over” is the correct form. It has been for two or more centuries. “Tie one over” is a folk etymology created by speakers to whom the original expression makes no sense.

Leave a Comment