a rising tide lifts all boats

Principally known in the United States, this is one of several proverbs popularized by the Kennedy family. It is generally used in economic contexts, the tide being that of prosperity.

1963 J. F. KENNEDY Address 25 June in Public Papers of Presidents of U.S. (1964) 519 As they say on my own Cape Cod, a rising tide lifts all the boats. And a partnership, by definition, serves both partners, without domination or unfair advantage.

1988 Washington Post 7 Mar. A12 The theory used to be that all Americans had a stake in prosperity. The comforting notion was that the rising tide would lift all boats. Now, however, both the theory and some of the boats have holes in them.

1990 Washington Times 6 Mar. C2 The country was in a sharp economic expansion coming out of ’82. This made everybody look smart—you know, the rising tide lifts all boats.

2001 Washington Post 16 Aug. E1 ‘In the high-growth environment of the past, a rising tide lifted all boats,’ said Magid Abraham, chief executive of ComScore Networks, a Reston firm that measures online activity.


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