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undertow

[uhn-der-toh] /ˈʌn dərˌtoʊ/
noun
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.
Origin of undertow
1810-1820
1810-20; under- + tow1
Synonyms
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, especially on the Pacific coast, to mean much the same as undertow, dangerous to bathers where heavy surf prevails.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for undertow

undertow

/ˈʌndəˌtəʊ/
noun
1.
the seaward undercurrent following the breaking of a wave on the beach
2.
any strong undercurrent flowing in a different direction from the surface current
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for undertow
n.

1798, from under + tow (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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undertow in Science
undertow
  (ŭn'dər-tō')   
An underwater current flowing strongly away from shore. Undertows are generally caused by the seaward return of water from waves that have broken against the shore.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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12
14
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