What Do Dreams of Water Mean?

8 min read

Last Modified 17 June 2022 First Added 17 June 2022

The Meaning Behind Water Dreams

Water frequently flows through our dreams with all sorts of different meanings. What links them all is their representation of our emotional state of mind. We all understand the necessity of water, indeed our very survival depends on it. But it’s also vital for living our lives, from washing our bodies and our clothes, to producing the very food we eat. But what does such a valuable element mean when it appears in our dreams?

When we consider water, cleanliness and purity are the first things that spring to mind. According to Psychic Library, the symbolism of water dreams can include life, death, change, rebirth and renewal. Context is critical to describing the meaning of dreams about water. It’s important that when analysing such dreams you take into account the type of water formation you’re surrounded by; is it a swimming pool, a lake, the ocean, or even the bath?

In this article we’ll delve into all of the different variations of these dreams and what they could mean to your life.

The dream:

After paddling up and down your local swimming pool for a good while, you decide this lap will be the last. But on reaching the middle of the pool an unnerving thing happens. Although you keep on swimming, somehow you don’t seem to be making the slightest bit of progress towards the side.

No matter just how fast you paddle and the amount of effort you make, you remain stationary in the middle of the pool while other swimmers pass you by

Then you feel a swell and a great roar as a huge wave picks you up and throws you forwards. Suddenly you’re no longer in the familiar surroundings of the pool and appear to be in the middle of the ocean. You almost jump out of your skin when a school of fish tickles your toes swimming right under your legs.

What on earth is going on? This has to be a dream, right?

The meaning behind a water dream

Dream interpretation can be a useful tool to help you better understand yourself. Water is associated with fertility, creativity, emotional well-being, renewal, purity, and new endeavors. And, according to Freud, water in our dreams is closely linked to birth; if you experience these dreams there’s a possibility that either yourself or someone close to you may be expecting.

Psychology Today explains, “Either one plunges into water or climbs out of it, rescues someone from water or gets rescued from water, indicating a mother-like relationship to that person.”

Meaning(s) of the dream:

Dreams about water are symbolic of your emotions during your waking life. They’re said to be linked to the deepest recesses of your subconscious mind and your intuition. There are many different kinds of water dreams, from dreaming of being in the bath or shower, seeing the ocean, rivers or streams to falling into water and being underwater.

The following descriptions cover the most common variations.

1. The ocean

When you dream about the mighty ocean, you’re likely to be full of emotions which are deep and strong like the tides. According to Aunty Flo, this is because we are primarily made of water and the largest body of this element is the ocean.

For determining the meaning of this dream, it’s important to pay close attention to the state of the ocean in the dream. My Dream Symbolism explains that a calm ocean, indicates stability of a situation. It indicates that things will go smoothly, there will be no delays. So this is a welcome dream to have if you’re about to go on a long journey.

It’s also said to mean that you may have taken control over an important aspect of your life and is a sign of emotional balance. On the other hand, if the ocean was stormy, with towering waves crashing on the shore, you may want to take this as a warning that a future event won’t go exactly as planned.

2. Rivers and streams

Great news if you find yourself going with the flow of the river in your dreams! It’s likely that this means life’s taking you in a positive direction. It’s also likely you’re at peace with any changes that may be occurring in your waking life if you dream of a tranquil and serene river or stream.

However, according to Psychic Library, this dream may be a sign that things are moving too quickly in your life if the river is tumultuous and fast flowing. It could be a sign that perhaps you should slow down and regain control. And if you’re having trouble getting across the river, this can indicate that there are obstructions or blockages in your life keeping you from attaining your goals.

3. A swimming pool

A swimming pool represents your inner feelings and thoughts, says Aunty Flo, who explains that lounging, splashing, diving, and floating in a pool in dreams signify all sorts of strong and powerful spiritual messages.

Someone who swims every day for exercise will have a different meaning for this dream than anyone who is terrified of water. A swimming pool can mean feeling confined, or it can mean bottling up fears and emotions, according to Journey Into Dreams. This dream may stem from a desire to relax or a need to dive right in and “take the plunge”, no matter the initial shock, explains The List.

4. Underwater

You’re starting to explore a wealth of untapped gifts that have still to bubble up to the surface from your subconscious mind. This dream can also reflect that you are trying to escape from overwhelming situations in your waking life. It also might be symbolic of returning to the womb, a time in which you had no responsibilities and were sheltered and protected.

Answering the dream:

To understand what your dream about water could really signify, you’ll need to think long and hard about the dream and what it means to you personally. For example, how did you feel during the dream? Was it a positive or negative dream?

If negative, then perhaps it could really improve your life to confront these thoughts properly. If the dream represents anxiousness or overwhelming feelings, it could be an idea to to break down the exact causes of these stresses as this may lead you to finding solutions.

Because water is constantly shifting and changing it’s a good symbolic representation of life. As a consequence, the real-life circumstances that surround your dream of water have much to do with its interpretation. In general water dreams relate to your emotional stability, so if the water is in a calm state it’s likely you are experiencing a tranquil period in your life and vice versa.


Notable appearances in popular culture:

The lifegiving qualities of water and its importance to our survival mean water is featured heavily across popular culture, from books to stage plays, and films to music.

Who can forget the tagline just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water from Jaws, Spielberg’s masterpiece of tension building and suspense? The soundtrack alone was the stuff of nightmares. It’s oh-so-creepy repetitive violin stabs of ‘dur-dur’, ‘dur-dur’ have become the go to sound effect for expressing imminent danger. Jaws has become one of the most popular and critically acclaimed films ever made and has been endlessly parodied ever since its release in 1975.

Conversely, on the opposite side of the success scale is the Kevin Costner vehicle Waterworld. Filmed at sea on a manmade island, it was the most expensive film ever made at the time, and holds the unenviable record as  one of the biggest cinematic flops of all time.

Aside from film and books, references to water are used in the English language to convey a huge range of ideas in some of our most popular idioms:

  • Water under the bridge describes events in the past that can’t be undone, but are forgiven or accepted.
  • Blood is thicker than water is a relatable way to describe how people who are related have stronger obligations to each other than to people outside the family.
  • And when we get in trouble for doing something wrong and find ourselves in a difficult situation, we’re often described as being in hot water.

Just like dreaming of water, being chased in your dreams has a meaning to your waking life. For more, take a look at what being chased in your dream means, or what dreaming about running late means.