Does the word tidy relate to the tides?
Yes, both words derive from the Old English tid, meaning “time.” A tidy fortune, for example, is a sum of money that’s not only neat but also seasonable, or earned in good time. In the 16th century, Thomas Tusser wrote, “If the weather be fair and tidy,” meaning if it was seasonable, or right for that time of year, whether summer or winter. Someone who is getting along tidily is doing well, or doing favorably under the circumstances. It’s not so much a matter of neatness as it is of appropriateness to the situation. Just as the tides are methodical and keep to their proper season, so tidiness comes with orderliness and proper arrangement, along with a hint of opportunity. A young bachelor, hoping to make his tidy fortune, knows that “the tide must be taken when it comes.” If he misses his chance, however, he’ll be assured that “the tide never goes out so far but it always comes in again.” If he misses it a second time, however, he should be warned that “time and tide wait for no man.”
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