- to flow back or away, as the water of a tide (opposed to flow).
- to decline or decay; fade away: His life is gradually ebbing.
Origin of ebb
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for ebb
Ebb and flow, checks and balances, the center would hold, et cetera.A Veteran’s View: NYC Cold War Between Cops and City Hall
December 29, 2014
Analyzing the ebb and flow of the race, Howie said Weiland has positive momentum but Rounds is collapsing.South Dakota's Bizarre Four-Way (Senate Election, That Is)
October 15, 2014
Perhaps this accounts for the ebb and flow of her popularity.The Fiction Writer Shirley Jackson Stars in Her Own Novel
June 18, 2014
But Shrier noted that undergarment trends tend to “ebb and flow.”Kate Middleton’s “Bottomgate” Shows Why Women Still Need Slips
May 28, 2014
Treat mental health disorders and seemingly random violence will ebb too, the theory goes.Massacres and Madness
December 14, 2013
He acquired a general knowledge of the ebb and flow of popular stocks.The Spenders
Harry Leon Wilson
And with those words his charity towards Spurling began to ebb.Murder Point
And again and again fell the word, like the ebb of a dying sea.Howards End
E. M. Forster
On the ebb it'll snake you out into the breakers sure as I'm settin' here tellin' you.The Woman-Haters
Joseph C. Lincoln
It was like the ebb of a broken wave to those who had heard the sea.The Shadow of a Crime
- (of tide water) to flow back or recedeCompare flow (def. 9)
- to fall away or decline
- the flowing back of the tide from high to low water or the period in which this takes place
- (as modifier)the ebb tide Compare flood (def. 3)
- at a low ebb in a state or period of weakness, lack of vigour, or decline
Word Origin and History for ebb
Old English ebba "ebb, low tide," perhaps from Proto-Germanic *abjon (cf. Old Frisian ebba, Old Saxon ebbiunga, Middle Dutch ebbe, Dutch eb, German Ebbe), from *ab-, from PIE root *apo- "off, away" (see apo-). Figurative sense of "decline, decay" is c.1400.
Old English ebbian, from the root of ebb (n.). Related: Ebbed; ebbing.