What is a Tide and Where Did the Word Even Come From?

Alright, I admit that this does sound like it should be a word that everyone knows.  I am surprised by the number of people that think it only refers to how water moves in and out to shore depending on the time of day.  The word tide is a measure of time.  To be specific, it is a section of twelve hours.  Yes, that is the general period between tidal changes in water levels, but it has been used as a general measure of time for a lot longer than that.  What is the reason for that?  Could it possibly be that it has something to do with the Dutch language and their world travels?  Yes!  Actually it does!  Let us find out why.

In Dutch there is the world “tijd”.  This word means “time”.  So if I were to say to my friend that it is “zwemmen tijd”, what  it sounds like I am saying is “swimmin’ tide”.  Oddly enough, that actually does sound very Oklahoman.  The world “tijd” does sound very close to the English word “tide”.  The reason for this is because they have the same root word!  *gasp*  Say it is not so!  Yes, the words “tijd” and “tide”  do have the same root word.  That word is  “*dī-” and it is a Proto-Indo-European word meaning time.  To say that the word tide has nothing to do with time at all seems a bit silly now that we know that it actually does in fact mean time.  In fact, the English word “tide” is the only word that I know of that derives from that Proto-Indo-European word that does not have the primary meaning of time.

There you have it.  The next time someone says something about tides you can impress them with your knowledge of the word or really confuse them by giving them the time without any context.  That is fun.  I enjoy doing that sometimes.  Sometimes I do it without thinking about it.  Whoops.  Linguist problems.

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