sea puss

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See also: sea-puss


Etymology 1[edit]

From Quiripi (Unquachog) seépus (river), cognate to Abenaki sibo (river), sibos (brook, little river).

Alternative forms[edit]


sea puss (plural sea pusses)

  1. A strong seaward current; a riptide or undertow, especially as results when a sandbar formed by waves suddenly gives way, and which is dangerous to swimmers.
    • 1877 August, N. B. Emerson, Sea-Bathing, in The Sailors' Magazine and Seamen's Friend, volume 49, number 8, page 227:
      Sometimes owing to a peculiar formation of the coast, the waves are brought together in an angle, indenting the shore in such a way that this return flow, or undertow, runs out to sea in a continuous stream, which is called a sea-puss. The sea-puss is of variable width—from twenty or thirty feet to perhaps fifty or a hundred—and its location can generally be recognized by the peculiar roughness of the sea, [] as well as by the fact that the beach opposite to it is channeled by the action of the water. [] Thus is happens that there may exist a strong sea-puss at a certain point one day; and next day, or later in the same day, owing to a change in the tide, the veering of the wind, or the shifting of some sandbar, it may have entirely disappeared.
    • 1911 October 25, Millicent F. Eady and Calvin T. Allison, a letter published in 1913 in the Annual Report of the United States Life-Saving Service, page 96:
      On the afternoon of the date mentioned the wind was blowing offshore and the tide was running in, forming sea pusses at intervals along the shore. We swam out to where the bar had been. Finding that it had shifted, we turned to come back and found that the ide had carried us into a sea puss, and that we were being swept seaward.
  2. The (flowing) channel which results when a cut is made (often deliberately by humans) in a barrier beach which separates a bay from an ocean, so as to control the water level in the bay (which affects water mills) and its salinity (which affects shellfish).
Usage notes[edit]
  • The spellings sea puss, seapoose and sea-purse (and variants of them) are most often used when the word has sense "dangerous current". When the word has the sense "deliberately-cut channel which affects water level", the spelling sepoose is common.
  • Some dictionaries and glossaries define "sea puss" as a longshore current,[1][2] but in actual use it refers to a seaward current.


  1. ^ Shore protection manual, U.S. Army Coastal Engineering Research Center, Volume III (1975, Department of the Army Corps of Engineers)
  2. ^ The Encyclopedia of Beaches and Coastal Environments (1982, ISBN 0879332131)

Etymology 2[edit]


sea puss (plural sea pusses)

  1. Alternative form of sea-purse (egg case; sea bean)