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Etymology 1[edit]

Perhaps of Scandinavian origin: compare dialectal Norwegian neip (forked pole).


neap (plural neaps)

  1. The tongue or pole of a cart or other vehicle drawn by two animals.

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English neep, from Old English nēp (scant, lacking), possibly from Proto-Germanic *nōpiz (narrow). Found especially in Old English nēpflōd (neap tide, literally low tide). Compare Norwegian dialectal nøpen (scarce, scant, barely enough).


neap (not comparable)

  1. (of a tide) Low; lowest; the ebb or lowest point of a tide.
  2. Designating a tide which occurs just after the first and third quarters of the moon, when there is the least difference between high tide and low tide.
    • 1934, Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer:
      Little groups of sailors came swinging along and pushied their way noisily inside the gaudy joints. Sex everywhere: it was slopping over, a neap tide that swept the props from under the city.


neap (third-person singular simple present neaps, present participle neaping, simple past and past participle neaped)

  1. To trap a ship (or ship and crew) in water too shallow to move, due to the smaller tidal range occurring in a period of neap tides.
    • 1770, Captain James Cook, Journal During the First Voyage Round the World[1], entry for 22 June 1770:
      At 8, being high water, hauld her bow close ashore, but Keept her stern afloat, because I was afraid of Neaping her, and yet it was necessary to lay the whole of her as near the ground as possible.
  2. to ooze, to sink, to subside, to tail[1]
    • 1831, Adam Clarke, Commentary on the Bible, volume II page 860:
      It is well known that the spring tides happen at the change and full of the moon, at which time she is conjunction with and opposition to the sun. As these retire from their conjunction, the tides neap till about three days after the first quadrature, when the tides begin again to be more and more elevated, and arrive at their maximum about the third day after the opposition.[2]


neap (plural neaps)

  1. A neap tide.

Etymology 3[edit]


neap (plural neaps)

  1. Alternative form of neep


  1. ^
  2. ^ Adam Clarke, Commentary on the Bible, Volume II, Emory and B. Waguh, New York, 1831