Time and Tide Wait for No Man – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Did someone just say ‘tide and time wait for no man’ after they see you lazing around? This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression.

Meaning

The expression ‘time and tide wait for no man’ means that no one can escape the passing of time. It’s a motivating statement meant to inspire you to take action in your life. If someone tells you ‘time and tide wait for no man,’ they’re telling you that you’re wasting your time and you should look into being more productive.

‘Time and tide wait for no man’ means that we all have a limited time on this planet, and we should choose activities that further our life experiences. Sitting around and doing nothing with your life means passing up opportunities to grow and develop your life experience. ‘Time and tide wait for no man’ means that you must examine what you’re doing with your time and life.

Example Usage

“Why are you lying around doing nothing? Do something with your life. Don’t you know that tide and time wait for no man?”

“There is no way I’m waiting around for him to make a decision. Tide and time wait for no man, and I’m done with sitting on my hands.”

“There is an old saying, ‘tide and time wait for no man.’ I think you need to take that into consideration and do more with your day.”

“Tide and time wait for no man. If we don’t make it happen, life is going to pass us by. Let’s get off our seats and do something with our time.”

Origin

The expression ‘tide and time wait for no man’ originates from the early 11th century. The first use of the phrase appears in archaic English, in a script written by St. Marher in 1225, where it appears as follows.

“And te tide and te time þat tu iboren were, schal beon iblescet.”

However, the phrase appeared centuries later in ‘Chaucer’s Prologue to the Clerk’s Tale,’ published in 1395. The proverbial expression was worded in its modern phrasing.

Phrases Similar to Time and Tide Wait for No Man

  • Get moving.
  • Make it happen.

Phrases Opposite to Time and Tide Wait for No Man

  • Why bother?
  • Take it easy.
  • No rush.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Tide and time waits for no man.
  • Time waits for no man.

Ways People May Say Time and Tide Wait for No Man Incorrectly

The phrase doesn’t have anything to do with the tide. It’s a way of saying that time marches on with or without your input. Using it to describe ocean conditions is incorrect. It’s common for people to use a shortened version of the phrase ‘time waits for no man.”

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Time and Tide Wait for No Man

You can use the saying ‘tide and time waits for no man’ when you want to tell someone they need to do more with their time. It’s a way of saying that nothing will happen unless you take action, and procrastination is the thief of time. You can use the saying in social and professional conversations.

You could use it at work to motivate your staff to do more prospecting. At home, you could use it with your kids to help them understand the importance of being efficient and effective with their time. Typically, the phrase suits situations where you’re trying to inspire people to be more productive with their time.

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