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the sea is high Options
Kirill Vorobyov
Posted: Wednesday, August 02, 2017 7:21:15 AM

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Location: Moscow, Moscow, Russia
But as they arrived in the hall, Emily Brent came in through the front door. She
had on a mackintosh. She said:

"The sea is as high as ever. I shouldn't think any boat could put out today."


Without context, I would have thought she was talking about the tide when referring to the sea being "high". But the context suggests to me that she would rather be talking about high waves... Is it so you think?
thar
Posted: Wednesday, August 02, 2017 7:36:34 AM

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Yep. The sea is the state of the surface, the waves - - flat or high
A high sea is rough, big waves.


It can be an individual wave, (I remember we had a question about a twenty-foot sea, from Moby Dick, I think) or the general size of the waves.

Sea
Tfd
Quote:

3.
a. The condition of the ocean's surface with regard to its course, flow, swell, or turbulence: a rising sea; choppy seas.
b. A wave or swell, especially a large one: a 40-foot sea that broke over the stern.


It is too rough for a small boat to go out.
Kirill Vorobyov
Posted: Wednesday, August 02, 2017 8:00:17 AM

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I see, thank you very much, Thar!
coag
Posted: Wednesday, August 02, 2017 2:27:56 PM

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I had heard the plural form "high seas" long time ago but I had never checked a dictionary for the precise meaning of the expression. I predicted from context that it meant far at sea, from where you cannot see a shore. Finally, after reading this thread, I checked a dictionary.

high seas: the open seas of the world, outside the jurisdiction of any one nation
(Collins)
thar
Posted: Wednesday, August 02, 2017 2:35:34 PM

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Yes, that is the high seas. As in open sea, a place of adventure where anything can happen! You were right.
But you have high seas, where the sea is stormy.
One being a place 'the __' and the other being a condition, it is normally clear in context. Don't venture out onto the high seas when there are high seas!

Mostly it doesn't refer to technical jurisdiction - just 'out there' far enough to be somewhere away from the controls or help of the land and its people.
The high seas is not just a romantic term from adventure books, though. In limited contexts it is that technical definition.
Quote:
The Convention on the High Seas is an international treaty which codifies the rules of international law relating to the high seas, otherwise known as international waters.[1] The treaty was one of four treaties created at the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS I).[2] The treaty was signed 29 April 1958 and entered into force 30 September 1962.[3] As of 2013, the treaty had been ratified by 63 states.[4] The Convention on the High Seas was superseded by UNCLOS III, which introduced several new concepts to the law of maritime boundaries including Exclusive Economic Zones.


Much less romantic than treasure ships and pirates on the high seas. Whistle

coag
Posted: Wednesday, August 02, 2017 3:32:04 PM

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Thank you very much, thar, for your explanations. I did not pay attention to, and I did not notice the definite article in the meaning of "high seas" that I mentioned.

I'll try, also, to remember that there is no article in "in open sea", when the expression is used as in the following example:
"The strong tides in the channels made it impossible for the ship to move slowly, as would be done in foggy conditions out in open sea." (COCA)

For fellow English learners, here is an expression which I just learned, mare clausum (Latin, literally, closed sea). As far as I understand it, it would be the Latin antonym for English "the high seas".
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