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See also: under tow



From under- +‎ tow.


undertow ‎(third-person singular simple present undertows, present participle undertowing, simple past and past participle undertowed)

  1. (transitive) To pull or tow under; drag beneath; pull down.
    • 1914, Denton Jaques Snider, Lincoln at Richmond:
      Off in a gallop the General wheeled vanishing, And sped his steed away into the blue, When Lineoln now alone let go his speech Which had before been undertowed by force, [...]
  2. (transitive) To pull down by, or as by, an undertow.
    • 1998, Richard Gough, David Williams, Ric Allsopp, Performance Research: On Place:
      A sense that the air, a sighting of muddy river, or that outcrop of rock so implacably bland in the light of midday, is undertowed by memory.
    • 2003, Michael T. Leibig, Mike Leibig Traveling in Disguise:
      I sink because I cannot swim, undertowed to the Centre, abandoning all remembrance of the surface toward the cloud of unknowing, without choice I'm pulled.
  3. (intransitive) To flow or behave as an undertow.
    • 1917, The Unpopular review:
      Everybody knows this and acts accordingly; but when you say it, it sounds bad and bold, and makes you uncomfortable to hear it, because the puritan blood is still undertowing in your veins.


undertow ‎(plural undertows)

  1. A short-range flow of water returning seaward from the waves breaking on the shore.
    A strong undertow may sweep a returning swimmer off their feet but it does not carry them far from the shore.
  2. (by extension) A feeling that runs contrary to one's normal one.

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