What Does Tide You Over Mean?

Tide You Over Meaning

Definition: To help one continue until things get better.

Origin of Tide You Over

The first known citation of this expression is from Captain John Smith’s 1627 A Sea Grammar, which was an influential sailor’s manual of the day.

  • To Tide ouer to a place, is to goe ouer with the Tide of ebbe or flood, and stop the contrary by anchoring till the next Tide.

Captain John Smith was also known for his efforts to establish the first permanent English settlement in North America.

This expression was originally a seafaring term. It meant that without any wind to fill the sails, you could simply float with the tide. This is a less than ideal way to get somewhere, but that is the point of the expression.

If something is to tide you over, it is always less than ideal.

If something like a loan from a bank tides someone over, that money can carry him or her through the hard times. When things get better the person can repay the loan.

Examples of Tide You Over

tide me over origin The dialogue below shows two university students discussing their upcoming tests.

Nisha: Hey, how’s the studying going?

Alan: Not great. I have three finals on the same day, but the university won’t let me reschedule any of them.

Nisha: That’s awful!

Alan: I know! I wish I had something to help me focus for the next few days, like a prescription to help me focus. I just need some medicine to tide me over until after finals. After finals, I could go back to my normal schedule and wouldn’t need the extra help.

Nisha: If you’re asking me discreetly for some drugs to help you study, sorry, but I don’t have any.

Alan: No, I was just speaking hypothetically.

tide use over origin The second dialogue shows a father and son discussing how stressed they are.

Son: Dad, I don’t know how I’m going to get through the rest of this school year. Normally, I’m not this stressed until the last month of school, but it’s only the second month of school!

Dad: Well, you have our big vacation to Italy to look forward to. Just think about how relaxing and fun that will be!

Son: Yeah, I agree that the vacation will help, but it’s so far away. I need something else to tide me over until it’s time for that vacation.

Dad: You’re probably right. Maybe we could take a weekend vacation to Disneyland! Would that help tide you over?

Son: Absolutely!

More Examples

The excerpt is about snacks helping someone get through their hunger until lunchtime.

  • When I’m not stuffing my face with burgers and cupcakes, I’ve been trying to be a little healthier lately. The only trouble is that I’m not very good at denying my hunger, and my typical breakfast choices of cereal or toast just don’t tide me over until lunchtime. –OC Register

This excerpt is about a well-known gym that is going through difficult times financially.

  • “It’s not a disaster, but 13% (reduction in enrollment) hurts,” Silverglade says. “It’s hard when you’re a small business owner. I don’t have a big margin; I don’t have a lot of money in a bank account to tide me over during bad times.” –New York Daily News


The expression tide you over means to assist one to get through a difficult time.