[ eb ]
See synonyms for: ebbebbedebbing on Thesaurus.com

  1. the flowing back of the tide as the water returns to the sea (opposed to flood, flow).

  2. a flowing backward or away; decline or decay: the ebb of a once great nation.

  1. a point of decline: His fortunes were at a low ebb.

verb (used without object)
  1. to flow back or away, as the water of a tide (opposed to flow).

  2. to decline or decay; fade away: His life is gradually ebbing.

Origin of ebb

before 1000; (noun) Middle English eb(be), Old English ebba; cognate with Old Frisian ebba,Dutch eb(be), German Ebbe ebb, Old Norse efja place where water backs up; (v.) Middle English ebben,Old English ebbian, derivative of the noun; akin to off

Other words for ebb

Other words from ebb

  • un·ebbed, adjective
  • un·ebb·ing, adjective

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use ebb in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for ebb


/ (ɛb) /

  1. (of tide water) to flow back or recede: Compare flow (def. 9)

  2. 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)

  1. at a low ebb in a state or period of weakness, lack of vigour, or decline

Origin of ebb

Old English ebba; related to Old Norse efja river bend, Gothic ibuks moving backwards, Old High German ippihōn to roll backwards, Middle Dutch ebbe ebb

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Other Idioms and Phrases with ebb


In addition to the idioms beginning with ebb

  • ebb and flow

also see:

  • at a low ebb

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.