Time and Tide Wait for None – Proverb Meaning and Expansion of idea


‘Time and tide wait for none’ is an old English proverb that means that both time and tide are uncontrollable, that is they can’t be stopped or deflected in any way; therefore, one must perform his duties considering the fact that time once lost, can’t be gained back. The proverb tells us the true worth of time and conveys that time is the most valuable asset. It warns us that we must not waste time and also be prepared for every eventuality.

Expansion of idea

The proverb ‘time and tide wait for none’ tells the value of time and tide and their strength. Time is stronger than anything else, in a way that you can’t stop it or even slow it down. Time passes at a steady rate and it’s inevitable.

The proverb advises us to don’t waste time, instead utilize it to the fullest. If we waste time then there is no way to reclaim it. This holds true for almost everyone. Suppose, a student who has to prepare for exams, just lets the time pass by and don’t study. Then there would be a time when he would realize that he shouldn’t have wasted time.

Reference to tide in the proverb is to indicate that natural calamities also are most powerful and humans are helpless in front of them. You have to be prepared for eventualities, keeping in mind that they won’t wait for you to complete your job. Rather, you have to complete it on time.

Short Stories on ‘Time and Tide Wait for None’

A well-written story on a proverb is another best way to understand the true meaning it conveys. I have given below, a couple of stories based on the proverb ‘time and tide wait for none’, for you to understand the true worth of the proverb.

Short Story 1

Once there lived a poor farmer in a village in India. His whole family depended on the farm products he generated throughout the year. Like he does every year, the farmer had sown the crop, in a particular year. When the time of harvest came, he needed to go to the city to hire laborers for that. He started postponing this, thinking that he still has time, while all the other farmers have harvested their field much in advance.

Even his wife’s persistent persuasions couldn’t get the farmer to go to the city and get laborers. He was simply postponing it, thinking that nothing could happen with a delay of a couple of days. However, one day he decided that he would be going to the city the next day. It so happened, that on the same night, a very strong storm came into the village. The winds were so strong that even big trees were uprooted.

Our poor farmer’s complete crop was destroyed in the storm. He was filled with immense grief and was filled with deep regret. Regret not valuing time and harvesting the crops without delay. Had he done that, he wouldn’t have faced this situation. Nevertheless, it was useless to regret now, because time and tide wait for none, and they haven’t waited for our farmer.

Short Story 2

Once there lived a king of a wealthy kingdom. He was always surrounded by courtiers who would try to flatter him. King’s courtiers would try all sorts of things to please him. They often said that the world moves at the King’s command and nothing exists that has the courage to disobey his command. King probably knew that his courtiers are just trying to flatter him and he wanted to teach them a lesson. One day the king asked his courtiers to accompany him on a sea voyage.

One of the courtiers objected, stating that it would be a full moon at sun-down and that there is a possibility of high tide. In this case, it wouldn’t be safe to be in the sea. The king smiled and told them – don’t worry, I have asked the time to delay so that there would be no sunset and we will get ample of day-light; and for the tide – I will order it to go back, if it appears. The courtiers realized their fault and seek forgiveness from the king, saying that “Time and tide wait for none.”


A good example in the form of a perfectly written sentence to explain a proverb does its job more effectively than a complete paragraph. I have given below some example sentences using the proverb ‘time and tide wait for none’. Hopefully, these examples will give you a deeper understanding of the proverb.

“The clock ticks every second and each gone second can’t be claimed back, no matter whatever you do or how desperate you are – because time and tide wait for none.”

“When the fishermen go into deep sea for a catch, they probably know that they have to get all their jobs done within time; also they need to back onshore before the high tide, because, neither time nor tide will wait for them to complete their job.”

“If you don’t study regularly, no matter how sincerely you try or how hard you study, just days before exams, it would be difficult for you to score. Said the teacher, adding that time and tide wait for none.”

“If we remain idle and keep on postponing our things, then we will not achieve our goals because time and tide wait for none.”

“The value of a single second can be asked from someone who missed a life-changing opportunity because of a delay of a couple of seconds- true that time and tide wait for none.”


The exact origin of the phrase ‘time and tide wait for none’ is uncertain, but it is an ancient English proverb, originating much before modern English. The proverb is credited to St. Marher 1225: “And te tide and te time pat tu iboren were, schal beon iblescet” which is translated into modern English as “the tide abides for, tarrieth for no man, stays no man, tide nor time tarrieth no man.”

It is probably from this phrase that the phrase ‘time and tide wait for none’ has evolved over time. Since then the phrase is in popular use by seamen and in general use by the public.


The proverb ‘Time and tide wait for none’ is a very important life lesson. It teaches us to be prepared always and not waste time, not even a second, in pursuance of our dreams. The true moral of the proverb is to not waste time, and always be punctual. It is significant for students, professionals, businessmen, and others, telling them to respect the time and always be on guard, prepared to face any adversity.

Only if we value time and be prepared for every hindrance, that we will achieve success. If we waste time, we wouldn’t be prepared to face the adversities that come in our way and finally will end up as a failure.