I assume you know already how spring tides and
leap tides occur and you only want to know where
they got their name from. Well, this is a tough
As you know, the sun and moon
each raise tidal bulges on the Earth's oceans.
When the sun and moon are on the same side of the
Earth (new moon) or the opposite side (full moon),
their bulges add together to make larger tides
than usual: this is called a "spring tide". When
the sun and moon are 90 degrees apart (first
quarter or last quarter moon), the bulges
interfere and cancel each other: this creates the
unusually small "neap tide".
Now,especially high tides are called
spring tides, but they have nothing to do with the
season and actually occur twice a month. I think
the name comes from the German word "Springen"
meaning "to leap". Spring tides also mean lower
low water. The opposite to a spring tide is a neap
The derivation of neap tides,
however, seems simpler. The Shorter Oxford
dictionary gives the derivation of 'neap' from the
Old English (OE) word 'nep', to become lower.
There is an article on the WWW that tries
to explain the roots of the words "spring" and
"neap". The author basically comes to the same
conclusion although she believes "spring" comes
from the Anglo-Saxon word springan (to bulge). But
in the Middle Ages the German language and the
Anglo Saxon were very close.
Hope this is helpful
Neap tides and spring tides are very different.
Spring tides are very high and very low tides
(that occur at the same time) whereas neap tides
are those tides that are sort of the 'mid tides',
not very high and not very low.
A tide that occurs when the difference between
high and low tide is least; the lowest level of
high tide. Neap tide comes twice a month, in the
first and third quarters of the moon.
The exceptionally high and low tides that
occur at the time of the new moon or the full moon
when the sun, moon, and earth are approximately
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