Here we will add tidal words and phrases that we have come across in our wanderings.
We will focus on more ‘poetic’ terms, perhaps local, vernacular, obscure and/or historic terms. The science books on tides, see a list on another page of this blog here, have very many technical terms in them. Not all are in this glossary. We are approaching 100 entries.
These are now in alphabetical order. (As of 20 02 2020).
Thanks to Heather Green for Glossary / Lexicon inspirations. Thanks to others, including Rhyddian Jones, for suggestions.
A very few terms are newly coined, from a project being conducted by Heather Green with support for Owain jones.
Aestus. “The term estuary is derived from the Latin word “aestus” meaning tide and refers to a tongue of the sea reaching inland”. This is an opening line from the book; ‘Estuaries: Monitoring and Modeling the Physical System”, by Jack Hardisty, 2007. Pdf here
Age of the Moon. Where the moon is in its monthly cycle from new to full. (Source: H Derek Howse; Some Early Tidal diagrams; 1985; Lisboa: Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical)
Age of the Tide. “An old term for the lag between the time of new or full moon (SYZYGY) and the time of maximum spring tidal range.” (Source; found in a Tidal Glossary on line which now seems to have gone. Author unknown, but it says on it: “adapted from the Glossary in ‘Changing Sea Levels: Effects of Tides, Weather and Climate’ by David Pugh, Cambridge University Press, 2004 with permission of the author and publisher”).
Apflod. Anglo-Saxon word for low tide. From Hugh Aldersey-Williams; Tide: The Science and Law of the Greatest Force on Earth.
Aphelion. The orbital point farthest from the Sun when the Sun is the centre of attraction, as opposed to perihelion. (Source; http://www.waterlevels.gc.ca/eng/info/glossary)
Apogean Tides. Tides of decreased range or currents of decreased speed occurring monthly when the Moon is near apogee. (Apogee. That orbital point farthest from the Earth when the Earth is the centre of attraction, as opposed to the Perigee). (Source; http://www.waterlevels.gc.ca/eng/info/glossary)
Back and Fill. A sailing term; “To use the advantage of the tide being with you when the wind is not.”
Bawley. An “English sailing vessel typified by a boomless cutter rig and probably named for having a boiler for cooking shrimp in amidships. “The majority were built by Aldous of Brightlingsea”, but they were also built in Harwich, Erith, Southend, Leigh, and on the Medway.” All that quote is from Wikipedia. Bawleys are discussed as a Thames estuary craft in Rachel Lichtenstein’s 2016 book Estuary.
Besid-Neap. [Sea Term] a term for low Tide. Found in an English dialect dictionary here. No other info to be found at present.
Big Run-Out. A term for a very low tide. This seems to be an American term. We first came across it in Jack London’s book ‘Tales of the Fish Patrol’. As in; ‘to my surprise, I found barely a foot of water where we had dropped anchor in ten feet. It was the big June run-out of the full moon, and as the ebb had yet an hour and a half to run, I knew that our anchorage would be dry ground before slack water.’ London also uses this phrase in the essay ‘Small Boat Sailing’.
Blood Moon. On rare occasions the moon appears as large and red – caused by the moon being softly illuminated in a total lunar eclipse by sunlight that has bent around the earth and thus through the earth’s atmosphere. (The same reason that sunsets are red). As this occurs at a moment of syzygy – sun, earth and moon in line – it coincides with spring tides. This magnifies the degree of ‘cosmic drama’ on show – high tides, red moon – and there are many spiritual associations with blood moons.
Breathings of the Moon. This maybe slightly cheating to put this in; it comes from a quote from the Venerable Bede (Saint Bede), one the great Anglo-Saxon scholars, when trying to describe and explain tides. They knew tides were linked to the moon’s phases, but not knowing of gravity, sought some other explanation. “But the most admirable thing of all is the union of the ocean with the orbit of the moon. At every rising and every setting of the moon the sea violently covers the coast far and wide, sending forth its surge, which the Greeks call reuma; and once this same surge has been drawn back it lays the beaches bare, and simultaneously mixes the pure outpourings of the rivers with and abundance of brine, and swells them with its waves. As the moon passes by without delay, the sea recedes and leaves the outpourings in their original state of purity and their original quantity. It is as though it is unwittingly drawn up by some breathings of the moon, and then returns to its normal level when this same influence ceases.”(Opera de Temporibus, Section XXIX, the Venerable Bede, 703 AD)
Change Moon. Another name for new moon. (Source: H Derek Howse; Some Early Tidal diagrams; 1985; Lisboa: Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical).
Dark Moon. There are various versions of what a dark moon is – often regarded as the same as a new moon. But there is a period in the moon cycle when it is not illuminated by the sun at all, and thus generally invisible in the night sky, that seems most obviously a dark moon to us. See here. Dark moon crops up in some tide related discussions as in here on Stilbaai Tidal Fish Traps.
Dead Waters (as opposed to Lively Waters). Hugh Aldersey-Williams in his book; Tide: The Science and Law of the Greatest Force on Earth, says that Bede discussed the sea in these terms (in medieval Latin), with lively waters being high/sping tides and dead waters the reverse.
Dead-Low Water. Denotes the very lowest point of and ebb tide. This was seen in ‘Ferries Of Gloucestersire’ by Joan Tucker, 2008.
Double Low Water / Double High Water. In certain locations, because of local topography, periods of low and high water have a mini rise and fall (e.g. Hoek Van Holland (Low) and Southampton, England High). This is a publication of the US Govt. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.
Dead with the Tide. This phrase occurred in a BBC Radio adaptation of the famous adventure story, Treasure Island by Robert Louise Strephenson. As in, when the ship central to the adventure set sails from Bristol Docks, they set sail ‘dead with the tide’.This would be at the high point of the tide, when the water level would be high along the length of the River Avon and the ebb help the ship – the Hispaniola – on her journey downstream the the Bristol Channel. I can’t find many other uses of this phrase.
Dutch Fair. A fair, or market, on Great Yarmouth Beach, but we think other places too, where Dutch barges would beach at high tide, sell goods to local shoppers, then set sail again at the next high tide. There is quite a famous painting by George Vincent which can be seen here. From Hugh Aldersey-Williams; Tide: The Science and Law of the Greatest Force on Earth. Another online account describes the scence. “The “Dutch Fair”, as it is denominated, is held on the beach, and presents an interesting appearance. From twenty to thirty of their falt bottomed boats are run on the shore at high water, and as the tide receded, are left high and dry. Dutch pipes, dried flounders, wooden shoes, apples, and gingerbread, are then offered for sale, and if the weather be fine, the beach is throunged with company, many of whom come from a great distance.”
Eagre. A dialect word for a tidal bore / wave. This appears in George Elliot’s novel The Mill on the Floss (Thanks to Rhyddian Jones for alert).
Ebb Current. “The horizontal movement of water associated with the falling tide. Ebb currents generally set seaward, or in the opposite direction to the progression. Also called ebb, ebb current or outgoing stream.” (Source; http://www.waterlevels.gc.ca/eng/info/glossary)
Elver Tide. I saw this in Brian Waters; Severn Tide, Dent and Sons, 1947. There are lengthy descriptions of elver fishing on the Severn in this book. He talks of how ‘Elvers are fished for the length of Severn tide, from Lydney to Tewksbury”, he describes how where and when and how to fish was in part determined by the state of the tide (and the season). He says that some ‘elver tides’ were more productive than others.
Emersion. “The process of emerging from water after being submerged”. This term can also apply to celestial emergence after an eclipse or emergence into view more generally. This obviously applies to things emerging out of the sea and the tide falls. See here Encyclopedia of Tidepools and Rocky Shore edited by Mark W. Denny, Steven Dean Gaines for use of term in relation to tidal rise and fall.
Establishment of the Port. A phrase meaning the coming of the high tide to a port which made it navigable. This is discussed in Some Early Tidal Diagrams, Derek Howse, 1985, who also reports that one Admiral W. H. Smyth, in The Sailors’ Word Book criticised it as “an awkward phrase to denote the tide-hour of the port”. (See Tide-hour of the Port).
Estero. A lagoon with greater salinity at its head than its mouth, since evaporation exceeds precipitation there. Found on desert margins of the American southwest and in Mexico. Also can be called a Negative Estuary. (Source; Dictionary of ichthyology. 2009. Thanks to Heather Green).
Estuary English. This has a modern meaning, but Stilgoe talks of older for of language – ‘the marshland vocabulary, which local people living in marshy coastal needed and perpetuated as the negotiated daily life in these very distinctive, shifting and in some ways dangerous environments. Source, John R. Stilgoe, Shallow Water Dictionary. A Grounding in Estuary English (1994). Thanks to Heather Green for the above, by sending info on the Stilgoe book.
First of the Tide. An expression sometimes used to denote the beginning of a fllooding tide. For example the memoir of sailing in the tidlal waters of the mouth of the Thames Esuary by Marice Griffiths, (1979) is entitled The First of the Tide. There is also a song of the same name by Erland Cooper
Fish Trap / Wier. Various forms of fish traps/wiers have been used for catching fish. They are structures such as stone enclosures, or wooden frames holding nets or baskets, which are built in accessible intertidal area and catch fish when the tide comes in and then falls again. The fish can then be collected at low tide. There is a video of a working commercial fish trap in The Bay of Fundy, Canada, here, which also supports ecological surveys of fish stocks, diversity etc . See also Putchers and Stilbaai Tidal Fish Traps.
Flo and Esbe. Rising tide and falling tide from the Hauge Atlas of 1541-7. (Source: H Derek Howse; Some Early Tidal diagrams; 1985; Lisboa: Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical)
Flood Current. “The horizontal movement of water associated with the rising tide. Flood streams generally set toward the shore, or in the direction of the tide progression. Also called flood, flood current or in going stream.” (Source; http://www.waterlevels.gc.ca/eng/info/glossary)
Flow of the Moon. An expression concerning the direction of movement of the moon in the sky. One of the indicators mariners used to try to predict tide times and currents (Source: H Derek Howse; Some Early Tidal diagrams; 1985; Lisboa: Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical)
Full Sea. High tide / high water. (Source: H Derek Howse; Some Early Tidal diagrams; 1985; Lisboa: Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical)
Fylleflod. Anglo-Saxon word for spring tide. From Hugh Aldersey-Williams; Tide: The Science and Law of the Greatest Force on Earth.
Golden Number of the Year. This is a bit complicated, but Howse explains that in the Brouscon Almanac, 1546, there was a means of telling the age of the moon from the calendar of Christian feast days – moveable in relation to the moon (like Easter) – and immovable. These in turn were linked to the Golden Number of the Year. See here for more on the Golden Number. (Source: H Derek Howse; Some Early Tidal diagrams; 1985; Lisboa: Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical)
Gout. A name for tidal outfall flaps or older discharge infrastructures, certainly used in South Wales, and particularly the Gwent and Wentlooge Levels. To allow reens (rhines) to drain seaward, but prevent inland flow at high tide. This report talks of the old stone Gout at Peterstone, Wentlooge Levels. (Thanks to Rhyddian Jones for reminder).
Heahflod. Anglo-Saxon word for high tide. From Hugh Aldersey-Williams; Tide: The Science and Law of the Greatest Force on Earth.
Lagging of Tide. The periodic retardation in the time of occurrence of high and low water due to changes in the relative positions of the Moon and the Sun. (Source; http://www.waterlevels.gc.ca/eng/info/glossary)
Lathe Net. A large hand-held net used for fishing in tidal waters by wading through the rising tidal margins.
Lee Tide (Leeward tide). A tide which is flowing in the same direction as the wind. (Thus the height of tide might be amplified when wind is pushing water onto the coast, or into an inlet or river mouth; the time of high tide/turn of the tide might be slightly altered).
Lively Waters (as opposed to Dead Waters). Hugh Aldersey-Williams in his book; Tide: The Science and Law of the Greatest Force on Earth, says that Bede discussed the sea in these terms (in medieval Latin), with lively waters being high/sping tides and dead waters the reverse.
Low Tide Walks. Walks that can only be done at certain – often very – low tides. So a few times a year – or even less than that. Maybe around a headland from cove to cove, or to a tidal island. There is a page dedicated to these on this blog here.
Lunation. A word for the monthly cycle of the noon
Make. The “tide makes” was a way of saying the tide is rising. Example: “we proceeded by the Solway Frith, to Carlisle. You must know, that the Solway sands, upon which travellers pass at low water, are exceedingly dangerous, because, as the tide makes, they become quick in different places, and the flood rushes in so impetuously, that the passengers are often overtaken by the sea and perish.”. Source; The Expedition of Humphry Clinker; Tobias Smollett, 1771.
Marigram. “Any graphic representation of the rise and fall of the tide. Time is generally represented by the absciss and the height of the tide by ordinates.” (Source; http://www.waterlevels.gc.ca/eng/info/glossary)
Mean High Water Springs. “Monthly tides are defined as ‘Springs’ or ‘Spring tides’ when the tidal range is at its highest and ‘Neaps’ or ‘Neap tides’ when the tidal range is at its lowest. The height of Mean High Water Springs (MHWS) is the average throughout the year, of two successive high waters, during a 24-hour period in each month when the range of the tide is at its greatest (Spring tides).” Source https://www.gov.uk/guidance/marine-licensing-definitions#:~:text=The%20Normal%20Tidal%20Limit%20(%20NTL,that%20are%20controlled%20by%20locks.
Mud Horse. A kind of sledge for moving across mudflats too soft to walk upon. Used for various forms of inter-tidal fishing and harvesting especially in the Severn Estuary (UK). The user stands at the back of the sledge, which takes most of the body weight as they lay foward on it, and the legs as used for propulsion.
Mud Patten. A traditional type of ‘shoe’ for walking on mud flats. There is a great film of ‘how to use mud pattens’ here. There were used for wildfowling.
Mudlark. ‘A person who scavenges for usable debris in the mud of a river or harbour’, often at low tide. Mudlarking the act of doing so. There is a blog entry about mudlarking on this site here.
Negative (or Inverse) Estuary. “In arid areas “negative estuaries” may form. If evaporation exceeds freshwater input, the back of the estuary becomes a source of dense water saltier than seawater. Now seawater enters at the surface and saltier water from the back of the estuary flows out below. The Mediterranean Sea is a giant negative estuary. During WWII German and Italian submarines used these currents to sneak past the British naval base at Gibraltar. The excellent submarine flick Das Boot’s obligatory depth charging scenes take place during the sub’s exit from the Mediterranean in the deeper saltier current. The idea was to cut power entirely and drift silently through the Strait in the appropriate current.” Source here. Thanks to Heather Green.
Nepflod (Niptid). Anglo-Saxon word for neap tide. From Hugh Aldersey-Williams; Tide: The Science and Law of the Greatest Force on Earth.
Normal Tidal Limit. A term denoting the very upper limit of a tidal reach on a waterway. This is usually marked by a lock, weir, dam of sluice. In a few places the tide reaches a ‘natural’ limit. i.e. where the high tide can reach to unimpeded by anthropogenic interference. Also called head of the tide. In the UK these often mark the boundary of the jurisdiction of The Marine Management Organisation (MMO). See there for more info.
Oaze. Old English for ooze or tidal mud flat.
Perigean Tides. Tides of increased range, or currents of increasing speed occurring monthly when the Moon is near Perigee (Spring Tides; King Tides). Perigee: that orbital point nearest the Earth when the Earth is the centre of attraction, as opposed to Apogee. (Source; http://www.waterlevels.gc.ca/eng/info/glossary)
Pîl ( also pill). This is a name, local to South-west England and Wales, for small tidal creeks, and/or the tidal outlets of streams emptying into sea/estuary. Some were used as small coastal trading harbours. Some are still used today. For example Oldbury Pill, Severn Estuary. See here. (Thanks to Rhyddian Jones for reminder).
Pill Hobbler. Pill is also a village on the tidal Avon near Bristol, UK. It is famous for being home to generations of hobblers who work was intimately linked to the tidal aspercts of getting shiiping in and out the ports of Bristol, Portishead, and Portbury. See this blog post for more info on the Pill Hobblers.
Pilot Songs or Verses. The artist (and sailor) Alex Goodman alerted me of these. They are songs which contain information about pilot passages so it can be remembered. Some reference to this idea (but no specific reference to tides) is mentioned here.
Portbury Kiss. An accidental black mark put on large ships as they pass through the Royal Portbury Port tidal lock gates and rub against large rubber buffers. Source; this blog post for more info on the Pill Hobblers
Puja and Baix. The words for flood and ebb in the Catalan Atlas of 1375, one of the earliest tidal diagrams according to Hoswe (Source: H Derek Howse; Some Early Tidal diagrams; 1985; Lisboa: Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical)
Putchers. A woven funnel-like trap, often made from willow, staked out in inter-tidal lands at low tide which can catch, fish, particularly salmon, when covered at high tide, which can then be retrieved at the next low tide. see also Fish Trap.
Quarage. The rise in the level of a river caused by a high tide, which checks the regular downstream flow of a river and creates a build-up of water. This will happen on all the
rivers which empty into tidal estuaries, except those which now stand behind barrages and dams – such as the rivers Ely and the Taff which now are permanently at high water due to the Taff Barrage, Cardiff, Wales, UK.
Real and Ecclesiastical Moon. In relation to the ‘age of the moon’, there were some differences between the actual age of the moon in its cycle and the age of the moon in ecclesiastical calendars, this was important to know when using the religious calendars in relation to tidal prediction. (Source: H Derek Howse; Some Early Tidal diagrams; 1985; Lisboa: Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical)
Roost. This seems to be a term for regular areas of rough, fast flowing water, produced by tidal ebb and flow, often through channels and sounds. It is used by Rachel Carson in the essay The Sea: Wind, Sun, and Moon. Here is another example; “Going west about from Kirkwall to Stromness will take about 3 1/2 hours at 8 knots. Leaving Stromness for Kirkwall is about the same as stated for Stromness to Westray. During any westerly weather there is quite a roost out of Hoy Sound on the ebb.” source here.
Rotary Current. “A tidal current that flows continually, with the direction of flow changing through 360° during a tidal cycle. Called rotary stream in British terminology.” (Source; http://www.waterlevels.gc.ca/eng/info/glossary)
Salt Pruning (tidal). Salt pruning refers to the killing of leaves on trees (and other plants) by contact with salt (sea) water. It is most commonly used in relation to blown sea spray affecting shoreline trees. However, where tree canopies come down to tidal waters on occasions one can get clearly defined high tide lines on the bottom edge of the canopy caused by the high tide. An example is here. River Tamar, Cornwell Book Link. (This book has a short essay about tides in it).
Salt Water Drovers. We saw this in relation to drovers who “worked with the tides in mustering the cattle as they move them from mainland Tasmania to Robbins Island.” Source here. There are many links between droving and tides as drovers knew of river mouth crossings, and crossings between mainland and islands, which were passable only at the lowest tides.
Sea Biscuits. Pieces of clay that are rolled into regular ovates (egg shaped) along the sea floor by the flowing of rising and ebbing tides, which are then left exposed as the tide falls. (The clay mud is sticky and firm enough to resist being dissolved by the sea water).This is another new term coined by Heather Green and Owain. See blog post and pictures here.
Sea-Green. Again, according the Stilgoe (see above), a sea-green is ‘ground overflowed by the sea in a spring tide’. Stilgoe adds, ‘actual sea-greens lie just barely inland, just beyond the innermost wrack lines, just beyond the last clumps of beach rose and the perfumeless sea lavender. There, in spring tides and hurricanes, the ocean intrudes, its seasonal swampings creating and maintaining odd wetland ecosystems’. Source, John R. Stilgoe, Shallow Water Dictionary. A Grounding in Estuary English (1994). Thanks to Heather Green for the above, by sending info on the Stilgoe book.
Sea-Mark. According to John R. Stilgoe in his book, Shallow Water Dictionary. A Grounding in Estuary English (1994), a sea-mark is some visible landmark (on land) which aids navigation. But also, he says, thee term is used to identify ‘the utmost reach of the tide’, i.e. the furthest point a tide will reach up a river or stream. He adds that this was, certainly, a Cornish (UK) usage. Source, John R. Stilgoe, Shallow Water Dictionary. A Grounding in Estuary English (1994). Thanks to Heather Green for the above, by sending info on the Stilgoe book.
Seiches. These are fluctuations in bodies of water, e.g. lakes, which seem to be tides, resulting in rhythmic rise and fall of water and currents, but which are in fact caused by other forces, such a prevailing wind or varying barometric pressure seeing up enduring oscillations in bodies of water. They can either exacerbate or dampen tidal rise and fall. There are listed in some tide books (Japan). Source – “Tampering with the Tides” by F. Keith Dalton. PDF Tampering with the Tides
Sett of the Tide. Old English term for the direction of flow if the tide.
Shift Tides. Sighting the positions of the sun and moon using a sextant and using a nautical almanac to determine the location and phase of the moon and calculating the relative effect of the tides on the navigation of the ship. (Source; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glossary_of_nautical_terms)
Shore Lark. Rare winter visitors (to the UK) – a small lark that feeds on coastal / tidal margins and tide wrack lines.
Slack Water. When tidal waters are relatively still, and neither rising or falling, for a short period at the turn of the tide between ebb and flood. See Water Slack.
Slough. A slough is a tidal creek which is often part of a wider wetland/estuarine system. It seems to be a mostly American term. We fisrt came across it in Jack London’s book ‘Tales of the Fish Patrol’. In that story, navigation up a slough is important but only possible when the tide is high. In America some sloughs are now part of important wetland conservation efforts, for example Elkhorn Slough on Monterey Bay, California.
Southing of the Moon. According to Howse, this was a common phrase up until the 19th century. It was an expression trying to make sense of how the moon affected the tide in relation to navigation; the crossing on the moon over the Southern meridian being a marker for coming high tide.
Standing Waves. Waves that remain in the same position rather than progressive waves. (Source; Tides. A Very Short Introduction; Bowers and Roberts, 2019). These can be created in various ways but they occur commonly in Tide Races.
Stilbaai Tidal Fish Traps. “Ancient intertidal stonewall fish traps (Afrikaans: visvywers) that occur in various spots on the Western Cape coast of South Africa from Gansbaai to Mosselbaai.” See here. Fish traps were common in many, or most, tidal areas, as it is a pretty easy way of catching fish. These seem to be a particularly prominant type/region. See entry on Fish Traps.
Stolen Tide (1). “A tide which approaches by stealth; particularly a local term for the high tides which creep up the gullies and marshes of coastal Lincolnshire, England.”. (Source; found in a Tidal Glossary on line which now seems to have gone. Author unknown, but it said in it: “adapted from the Glossary in ‘Changing Sea Levels: Effects of Tides, Weather and Climate’ by David Pugh, Cambridge University Press, 2004 with permission of the author and publisher”). I
Stolen Tide (2). This seems a differient meaning to the above. in Hugh Aldersey-Williams’s; Tide: The Science and Law of the Greatest Force on Earth a stolen tide occurs when weather and wind conditions supress the ebb of a flood tide and then the next high tide washes in bringing even higher lervels. This is akin to a tide related storm surge as in the great floods of the North Sea in 1953.
Syrtes. In The Expedition of Humphry Clinker; by Tobias Smollett, 1771, The Solway Sands, which are passed over at low tide, causing danger to unwary travellers see Make are called Syrtes; as in “In crossing these treacherous Syrtes with a guide, we perceived a drowned horse…”. Syrtes, (singular Syrtis), is archaic word for quicksand or bog, but and was used, as Smollett does, for intertidal mud and sandbanks. The terms comes from the Gulf of Sidra in the Mediterranean Sea, off the northern coast of Libya. Historically it this was known as the Great Sirte or Greater Syrtis. It has sand banks that were dangerous to shipping. Although the tides in the Mediterranian are much lower than other seas, here they exacerbated the danger of this area to shipping. “The Syrtes maiores are unusually tidal and feature a strong (3 knots) clockwise current, at the rising tide, which then switches when the tide ebbs.”. Source Wikipedia
Tattle Tale. Light cord attached to a mooring line at two points a few inches apart with a slack section in between (resembling an inch-worm) to indicate when the line is stretching from the ship’s rising with the tide. Obviously only used when moored to a fixed dock or pier and only on watches with a flood tide. (Source; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glossary_of_nautical_terms)
Tīd. The Anglo-Saxon word for time, seemingly linked to the word tide. Heard on the BBC radio programme; “The Tides of the Staithe” by Kevin Crossley-Holland. Details here.
Tidal Atlas. (Tidal Stream Atlas). These are books of charts of tidal waters for navigation purposes. Mentioned in Hugh Aldersey-Williams book “Tide: The Science and Lore of the Greatest Force on Earth”. He says, on description of navigating a family sea passage, “We also had a tidal atlas, a booklet with pages showing the same body of water at each hour before and after high water for a full tidal cycle of twelve hours”. (pp:xxii-xxiii). Caroline Crampton also tells of her father using a tidal atlas when sailing in the Thames Estuary in the book, The Way to the Sea. Tidal stream atlases are still published for busy shipping areas like the English and Bristol Channels.
Tidal Festivals. There are a small number of festivals around the world which are tidal in that they are staged to coincide with a high or low tide, and even use spaces of low tide. The tide, high tide, low tide etc. is part of the programme on offer. Here are a few examples we know of. For a few years Stewart Ballard organised the Magnificent Severn Festival in Gloucestershire UK. This was held in a field by the tidal River Severn on the date of a high tide and the famous Severn Bore, as it passed the site, was scheduled as part of the programme, along with bands etc. The outline 2009 programme pdf is here. Magnificent Severn event (1).We have recently curated our own pilot tidal festival in Shirehampton Bristol as part of the Water City Bristol case study of the large Towards Hydrocitizenship project. This was held at the delightful Lamplighters pub and Lamplighter Marsh on the banks of the River Avon and was staged between low water and high water at one of the highest tides of the year; 15 Oct 2016. See more details here. A large Tidal Festival took place in Devonport, Tasmania in January 2017. Led by the Devonport Regional Gallery, a whole range of events and creations were staged, including on inter-tidal areas. See full details here. Another is TideFest ‘THE ONE DAY FESTIVAL THAT CELEBRATES THE TIDAL THAMES’. Other tidal festivals occur under the heading Low Tide, High Tide, or even LowHigh Tide. Some internet searching will find them. One is the Low Tide Festival at Brighton UK In 1990 “we started and coordinated a tidal festival – LowTide – held on the Saturday in May with lowest tide (next one is 27/5/2017).” This is organised by RiverOcean
Tidal Fill Pool. A term for a pool built to retain water after high tide, often in a seaside resort, or on some beach or other used for recreation. More commonly just called a tidal pool, or a marine lake. I came across this term when I spotted on a map, ‘The Old Tidal Fill Pool’ on the foreshore at Portishead, near Bristol (UK). It is, sadly, derelict. There are pictures of this on the Severn Estuary Survey photographic blog. Here.
Tidal Frame. The elevation range between the lowest and highest tides in a given location. Source here
Tidal Lines. Lines on maps denoting the extent of the tide. These include ‘mean high water’, and ‘mean low water’ lines, and other variations. These are common on UK Ordnance Survey maps and their history is discussed in the paper “Ordnance Survey data collection and mapping of tidal features”; Brian Baily, Sheetlines, 90 (April 2011), pp.4-17.
Tidal Prism. “The volume of water that flows into an estuary or bay during flood tide.” (Source; Tides. A Very Short Introduction; Bowers and Roberts, 2019).
Tidal Straining. “The action of a vertically sheared tidal flow on a horizontal density gradient. On the ebb tide in a well-mixed estuary, for example, the faster surface currents pull less dense water over denser water further out to sea creating stratification. The stratification will generally (but not inevitably) be destroyed when ebb turns to flood”. (Source; Tides. A Very Short Introduction; Bowers and Roberts, 2019).
Tidal Train. In Victorian times (UK) enterprising tourist and rail/shipping companies ran ‘tidal trains’. These were trains destined to arrive at, and depart from, ports at high tide, in conjunction with ships run by the same company. Charles Dickens’s short story Out of Town is set in a fictional sea-side town in Kent (UK) which was brought into tourist based economic life by such trains – “The South-Eastern Company have brought Pavilionstone into such vogue, with their tidal trains and splendid steam-packets, that a new Pavilionstone is rising up.” There is a Tidal Train sculpture in Port Moody, British Columbia, by the sculptor Bruce Voyce, picture here
Tidal Wake. A wake, as in ship’s wake, is commonly made by an object moving through water. Tidal wakes occur when tidal flows wash past a stationary object. Here is an example – Clevedon Pier Severn Estuary – ebbing tide. Very much a scratch trial film. New version to come.
Tidalites. (Tidal Rhythmlites). These are geological deposits which are reckoned to show the layering of sediments by ancient tides. Hugh Aldersey-Williams in Tide: The Science and Law of the Greatest Force on Earth, says that there are examples in Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah, where ‘the varying force of the tides is indicated by alternating light sandy layers left by strong tides able to transport sand and darker layers of mud deposited by weaker tides’ (p. 298).
Tide Crack. Tide cracks appear in sea ice where tidal movement causes breaks in ice, particularly when sea ice connects to more solidly emplaced ice. I fisrt heard this in the 2021 novel ‘Lean Fall Stand’ by Jon McGregor (There is a related term Tide bending, where fields of ice bend in relation to tidal rise and fall).
Tide Book(s). Small books of yearly tables of tide times and heights, and other information, are printed for locations all around the coast. They were designed to be carried in a pocket and were used by anyone who’s work, and/or recreation, was affected by tides. Although online tide tables and apps for phones are now common, printed tide books are still very much in use. The yearly tide book for the Bristol Channel / Severn Estuary gives tide tables for 8 locations, and is published by Arrowsmith and can be ordered by post here.
Tide Locking. When watercourses and drainage channels draining into a tidal water cannot discharge into it due to high tide. Source here.
Tide Mill. A mill which has a water wheel turned by the flow of water held back from high tide by an small resevoir and sluices. Historically there were many around coasts with high tidal ranges around the world, oftewn located on inlets and river mouths. The impoundment of water, which can then be released meant that there was some flexibility in when the power was available. Given the need for renewable, sustainable, green clean energy, and current interests in small micro-power generation schemes, it seems suprising there is not more current interest in working tide mills. There is a post about Tide Mills on this blog. Here
Tide on the Make. A phrase meaning the tide rising. Heard on the BBC radio programme; “The Tides of the Staithe” by Kevin Crossley-Holland. Details here
Tide Pond. I recently noticed that on my Ordenence Surrvey maps of the Severn Estuary, a number of ‘tide ponds’ are marked in the mud, sand and rock intertrtidal areas. As one would imagine, these are ponds of water left in place at low tide. So a rock pool could also be considered a tide pond or tide pool.
Tide Race. A place where strongly flooding or ebbing tides are forced through narrow channels, or around headlands etc. thus making a extra strong and turbulant flow. The often form a series of Standing Waves, they are, for obvious reasons a challenge to navigation and safe sea passage. Here is an example – a film of the tide race off Sand Point, Severn Estuary UK.
Tide Rip(s). Small waves formed on the surface of water by the meeting of opposing tidal currents or by a tidal current crossing an irregular bottom. Vertical oscillation, rather than progressive waves, is characteristic of tide rips. (Source; http://www.waterlevels.gc.ca/eng/info/glossary)
Tide Staff. A tide gauge consisting of a vertical graduated pole from which the height of tide at any time can be read directly. Also called tide pole. (Source; http://www.waterlevels.gc.ca/eng/info/glossary)
Tide Surveyor. “The Customs officer responsible for rummaging (searching) vessels anchorec at port.” (Source: Smuggling in the Bristol Channel 1700-1850. Graham Smith; 1988).
Tide Surveyor Parlour. A room in one of the Watch Houses on the tidal River Avon near Pill, from where river traffic and the tidal conditions were observed. Part of the Pill Hobbler community and port business systems. See this blog post for more info on the Pill Hobblers.
Tide Watching. Tides are, undoubtably, fascinating, in many ways. Not least they are fascinating visually on an hourly, daily and even momentary basis. So there are many accounts of ‘tide watching’. This is, from shore or craft, just watching some or other tidal scene, for the tide itself, what it brings, and the natures and cultures it shapes. Here are two examples mentions of ‘tide watching’. Edward Seago, in his 1948 book Tideline, says ‘This is why I find that “tide watching” can be a dangerous game – it is far too indulgent for one of my temperament, which is probably the reason why it gives me so much pleasure’. “Sittin’ on the dock of the bay, Watchin’ the tide roll away” is, of course, a line from the popular music hit single Sitting on The Dock of the Bay by Otis Reding.
Tide-hour of the Port. A term denoting the time when a high tide makes a port navigable.
Tide-water(s) (sometimes Tidewater(s)). A term for water on the rise/move, animated by the forces that make the tide. (Like flood water I guess). This term occurs on a number of occasions in John Muir’s last book; Travels in Alaska. As in: “this novel interruption of the channel is a bar of exceedingly hard resisting granite, over which the great glacier that once occupied it swept, without degrading it to the general level, and over which tide-waters now rush in and out with the violence of a mountain torrent.”
Tide Warning Siren. Arneside, a village and civil parish in Cumbria, which stands on the shore of Morcambe Bay is famous for its fast rising tides which very quickly cover wide sandy areas. At the higher tides, a siren is sounded to warn of the advance of the tide, the front which can be a swiftly moving tidal bore (wave). See video here. I am guessing other such sirens might exist but not found any yet.
Tide-water glacier. A term for a glacier that reaches all the way, from inland, to the ocean’s edge. Here, epsecially in places of high tidal range, such as the North-West coast of North America, the rise and fall of the tide helps in the claving of icebergs. This term occurs on a number of occasions in John Muir’s last book; Travels in Alaska. One of the largest tidal glaciers in Alaska, the Muir glacier, is named after John Muir.
Tiden. Seems to be the plural of tid and tide in Middle English. Also many other time related meanings in north European languages. See here.
Treece. A mark left on intertidal ground by bits of wood and other objects, as they are dragged, and then left stranded, by the last ebbings of a falling tide. This is a new word coined by Heather Green and Owain. See blog post and pictures here.
Top of the Tide. A term for high water. I saw on the Black Rock Lath Net Heritage Fishery videos here where, someone says they are sailing ‘on the top of the tide’ as they pass under the Second Severn Crossing.
Vanishing Tide. “When the local semidiurnal and diurnal tidal constituents conspire to give several hours of relatively constant sea level.” (Source; found in a Tidal Glossary on line which now seems to have gone. Author unknown, but it says on it: “adapted from the Glossary in ‘Changing Sea Levels: Effects of Tides, Weather and Climate’ by David Pugh, Cambridge University Press, 2004 with permission of the author and publisher”).
Warth. (Old version of Wharf?) River or estuary bank. Both of these suggested by Warwick Moreton https://twitter.com/WarwickMoreton (thanks). They still appear as terms on maps of the Severn Estuary and no doubt other shoreline areas. Whale Warth at Littleton-on-Severn was named as such when a huge sperm whale washed ashore there in 1895 on a high tide.
Water Slack. This is how Slack Water is known in North West American Seaboard. Source: Full Moon Flood Tide: Bill Proctor’s Raoncoast by Bill Proctor and Yvonne Maximchuk, 2003).
Weather Tide. A tide which is flowing against wind direction. The height and time of tide again might be slightly altered.
Whelps. “A train of secondary waves, typically of smaller amplitude, following the lead wave of a tidal bore, particularly on of undular types”. (Source; Tides. A Very Short Introduction; Bowers and Roberts, 2019).
Wind-Over-Tide. Sea conditions with a tidal current and a wind in opposite directions, leading to short, heavy seas. (Source; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glossary_of_nautical_terms)
Wrack Line. The line of debris left on the shore, marking the height of the previous high tide. Increasing tides keep picking up previous debris and moving it up the shore. Decreasing tides will leave a series of wrack lines.
Young Tide. A newly rising tide. I got this from Tarka the Otter by Henry Williamson.