/un"deuhr toh'/, n.
1. the seaward, subsurface flow or draft of water from waves breaking on a beach.
2. any strong current below the surface of a body of water, moving in a direction different from that of the surface current.
[1810-20; UNDER- + TOW1]
Syn. 2. UNDERTOW, UNDERSET, RIPTIDE are terms for a usually strong undercurrent in the ocean, contrary to the direction of surface water. UNDERTOW and another nautical term, UNDERSET (a set or current contrary to the general set of the water, or contrary to the wind), came into notice early in the 19th century. The former is still in general use along the Atlantic coast; the latter now less well known. RIP, in use in the U.S. by the late 18th century, properly means a violently disturbed place in a body of water, usually by the meeting of opposing tides. Of recent years, in the form RIPTIDE, it has also been used, esp. on the Pacific coast, to mean much the same as UNDERTOW, dangerous to bathers where heavy surf prevails.

* * *

      a strong seaward bottom current returning the water of broken waves back out to sea. There is in fact no such current in a gross sense, for the overall flow of surface water toward the shore in a surf zone is very small. The water actually thrown up on the shore by breaking waves does flow back, however, and under certain circumstances this return flow may be experienced by swimmers as a strong current. Returning water may, for example, be channelized by the presence or form of obstacles on the bottom into rip currents (rip current) of significant velocity but quite narrow lateral dimension. Also, since the volume of returning water varies with the size of the waves, the swimmer who waits for a low-water trough or a cycle of low waves before standing up to walk to shore may encounter the return flow from large waves just gone by and again experience a seemingly strong current.

* * *

Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Undertow — (often and incorrectly used for a rip current) is a strong subsurface flow of water returning seaward from the shore resulting usually from wave action.Undertow may also refer to: * Undertow, a 2007 short experimental film by Neil Mcenery West… …   Wikipedia

  • Undertow — Album par Tool Sortie 16 Avril 1993 Enregistrement Octobre Décembre 1992 aux Grand Master Studios, Hollywood Durée 69:13 Genre Metal prog …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Undertow — (engl. für Sog) steht für: Undertow (Album), ein Album der Band Tool Undertow (Band), eine deutsche Metalband Undertow – Im Sog der Rache, ein US amerikanischer Spielfilm aus dem Jahr 2004 Undertow (USA), eine US amerikanische Hardcore Punk und… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Undertow — Álbum de estudio de Tool Publicación 6 de abril de 1993 Grabación Octubre diciembre de 1992, en Grand Master Studios, Hollywood, California Género(s) …   Wikipedia Español

  • Undertow — Un der*tow , n. (Naut.) The current that sets seaward near the bottom when waves are breaking upon the shore. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • undertow — (n.) 1817, from UNDER (Cf. under) + TOW (Cf. tow) (n.) …   Etymology dictionary

  • undertow — [un′dər tō΄] n. [ UNDER + TOW1] a current of water moving beneath and in a different direction from that of the surface water: said esp. of a seaward current beneath breaking surf …   English World dictionary

  • undertow — [[t]ʌ̱ndə(r)toʊ[/t]] undertows 1) N COUNT: usu with supp If there is an undertow of a feeling, that feeling exists in such a weak form that you are hardly aware of it, but it influences the way you think or behave. The existence of an emotional… …   English dictionary

  • undertow — un|der|tow [ˈʌndətəu US dərtou] n [singular] 1.) the water current under the surface of the sea, that pulls away from the land when a wave comes onto the shore ▪ The dangerous undertow means that swimming is not allowed. 2.) a tendency or feeling …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • undertow — UK [ˈʌndə(r)ˌtəʊ] / US [ˈʌndərˌtoʊ] noun [countable] Word forms undertow : singular undertow plural undertows 1) a current below the surface of the sea or a river, that moves in the opposite direction to the water above it 2) a feeling or… …   English dictionary

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.