Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun An underwater current flowing strongly away from shore, usually caused by the seaward return of water from waves that have broken against the shore.
  • noun A tendency, especially in thought or feeling, contrary to what seems the strongest.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A current of water below the surface moving in a direction different from that of the surface-current; the backward flow or back-draft of a wave breaking on a beach. Sometimes called under-water.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Naut.) The current that sets seaward near the bottom when waves are breaking upon the shore.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb transitive To pull or tow under; drag beneath; pull down.
  • verb transitive To pull down by, or as by, an undertow.
  • verb intransitive To flow or behave as an undertow.
  • noun A strong flow of water returning seaward from the shore.
  • noun by extension A feeling that runs contrary to one's normal one.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun an inclination contrary to the strongest or prevailing feeling
  • noun the seaward undercurrent created after waves have broken on the shore

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From under- +‎ tow.

Examples

  • In some areas, people have used the term undertow to describe the combination of being knocked down, pulled out and submerged due to a lack of swimming ability and or lack of knowing what to do to escape.

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  • In some areas, people have used the term undertow to describe the combination of being knocked down, pulled out and submerged due to a lack of swimming ability and or lack of knowing what to do to escape.

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  • Only I'm still struggling against the current it seems. that damn undertow is a bitch, you know?

    Dru Blood - I believe in the inherent goodness of all beings: August 2005 Archives

  • Only I'm still struggling against the current it seems. that damn undertow is a bitch, you know?

    Dru Blood - I believe in the inherent goodness of all beings: This Is For J.

  • There is, in the easternmost fork of the Vingaard River, a sudden surge in the midstream current even more powerful than the steady undertow which is the constant bane of the rivermen and of those who foolishly try to cross.

    Virginity

  • I presume that this would be happening throughout the glacier so that, in equilibrium, the annual accumulation over the entire glacier net of surface sublimation would be balanced by a type of "undertow" delivery to the downslope tongue.

    Thoughts on Alpine Glacier Stratigraphy « Climate Audit

  • Titanic, and it seems that Minister Reith may be caught in a similar kind of undertow as a result of his inability to unhitch himself from Patrick, so when Chris sent me the words I was only too happy to include it in my growing collection.

    MUA Muse

  • Into the edge of one of these countercurrents, that was produced by the very rocks on which the schooner lay, and which the watermen call the "undertow," Dillon had, unknowingly, thrown his person; and when the waves had driven him a short distance from the wreck, he was met by a stream that his most desperate efforts could not overcome.

    The Pilot

  • He appears to be entering a produc - play on the word "undertow," is the code word the tive stage in his career, with plans for three nov -

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  • But if you know any other "undertow" songs I'd love to hear them.

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Comments

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  • "You can't fight the undertow

    Not when you're all alone

    You can't fight the undertow

    How long 'til you let go?"

    August 29, 2008

  • See consciousness comments.

    March 25, 2012