Definitions of the 'foreshore' are described as presented in various coastal geomorphological and related textbooks. To many geomorphologists, the term foreshore is considered synonymous with the interlidal zone. These definitions are compared with the legal definitions of the foreshore as exist in Britain under the three different property law regimes: English. Scottish and Udal law. The legal definitions and many of the geomorphological definitions are based on tidal data. The differences between the observed tides at a tide gauge and on a beach at a distance from the gauge are considered. It is concluded that the term Foreshore has a very specific legal meaning in each property law regime, therefore the authors propose that the term 'foreshore' should be used to relate to the legally defined area of the coast and, unless specifically referring to the foreshore, scientists should use the term intertidal. (C) 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.