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I went to the beach today but didn't get in the sea because it wasn't calm at all. I want to tell my friends that speak English about it and I wonder how should I tell them that. Should I just tell them that the tide was high or is there a better word to describe it?

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In common speech, the opposite of a "calm sea" is a "rough sea". If it's very rough we may say "turbulent". Another word for "calm", in the context of seas, is "smooth", by the way. If the water is rough and it's also raining, you can say "stormy seas".

Note that saying the tide is high has nothing to do with being calm or rough. "High tide" means that the water level is high, i.e. the water is deeper and/or comes farther up the shore, due to the tidal actions of the sun and moon. You could have high tide and be completely calm or low tide and be completely calm, or high tide and rough or low tide and rough.

  • This is all true, although sometimes a rough sea will be rougher when the tide is coming in, and not quite as rough when the tide is going out. One other word that came to my mind was raging sea (although raging is more likely to be seen in a literary or poetic context, I think). – J.R. May 1 '16 at 9:32
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    @Jay I like your answer. However, let me tell you that I have been in many different beaches including lakes and they get very rough in the afternoon right before the evening when tide is getting high so I don't agree that a high tide doesn't mean a rough sea since the waves are stronger. Though this is just a comment ignore it if you will. – Manuel Hernandez May 1 '16 at 11:30
  • @ManuelH - I grew up in a coastal town. While it's true that a flowing tide can roughen the waves, it's still possible to have relatively calm waters even just before a high tide. If you simply talk about the tide, most will assume you're talking about how high the water is at the beach, not about whether the waters are calm or rough. – J.R. May 1 '16 at 14:48
  • I see your point J.R. – Manuel Hernandez May 1 '16 at 15:07
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We usually call it a wave which means:

A long body of water curling into an arched form and breaking on the shore

If you say, "The waves were (very) rough today", it would get the meaning across.

You can replace "rough" with "high".

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