also tide-water, 1772, "water affected by the normal ebb and flow of the tide," from tide (n.) + water (n.1). In reference to the lowland regions of the Virginia shore of the western Chesapeake Bay, 1832.
Old English tīd "point or portion of time, due time, period, season; feast-day, canonical hour," from Proto-Germanic *tīdi- "division of time" (source also of Old Saxon tid, Dutch tijd, Old High German zit, German Zeit "time"), from PIE *di-ti- "division, division of time," suffixed form of root *da- "to divide."
Meaning "rise and fall of the sea" (mid-14c.) probably is via notion of "fixed time," specifically "time of high water;" either a native evolution or from Middle Low German getide (compare Middle Dutch tijd, Dutch tij, German Gezeiten "flood tide, tide of the sea"). Old English seems to have had no specific word for this, using flod and ebba to refer to the rise and fall. Old English heahtid "high tide" meant "festival, high day."
Old English wæter, from Proto-Germanic *watr- (source also of Old Saxon watar, Old Frisian wetir, Dutch water, Old High German wazzar, German Wasser, Old Norse vatn, Gothic wato "water"), from PIE *wod-or, suffixed form of root *wed- (1) "water; wet."
To keep (one's) head above water in the figurative sense is recorded from 1742. Water cooler is recorded from 1846; water polo from 1884; water torture from 1928. Linguists believe PIE had two root words for water: *ap- and *wed-. The first (preserved in Sanskrit apah as well as Punjab and julep) was "animate," referring to water as a living force; the latter referred to it as an inanimate substance. The same probably was true of fire (n.).
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Definitions of tidewater from WordNet
low-lying coastal land drained by tidal streams;
the coastal plain of the South: eastern parts of Virginia and North Carolina and South Carolina and Georgia;