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May 3 2013   2:09PM GMT

Tie me over vs. tide me over; also: the importance of fact-checking



Posted by: Ivy Wigmore
Tags:
commonly confused terms
meanings of common expressions

Which is correct?
I forgot to buy coffee last night and now this single cup will have to ___________ until the store opens.
a. tie me over
b. tide me over


Answer: b.

Explanation:
The expression is “tide me over,” per the OED, Merriam-Webster, World Wide Words and the Urban Dictionary (I’d include a link but as is often the case with UD, example use provided is not suitable for a family-oriented grammar blog).

On WWW, Michael Quinion provides this appearance in print:

… from 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”.

I also found this strongly-worded argument for “tie me over.”  The writer is quite, quite certain that “tide me over” is not only an error, but probably a mispronunciation of the *correct* “tie me over.” Apparently the writer was SO sure that s/he didn’t bother to consult any authoritative sources:

WARNING: It is a common misconception that the phrase “tie me over” is actually pronounced “tide me over.” Some even go so far as to say the “tide” refers to the ebb and flow of hunger, but this is not the case. Rest assured “tie me over” is correct. Using the phrase “tide me over” makes one assume you’ve been kidnapped and thrown into the ocean with cement around your feet.

Where did I find that? Wikibin — AKA Wikipedia’s recycle bin.

The moral? No matter how certain you are, check your facts before sharing your opinion.

 

Follow me on Twitter @tao_of_grammar

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