from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Ebb tide.
  • n. A period of decline or diminution: "Insistence upon rules of conduct marks the ebb of religious fervor” ( Alfred North Whitehead).
  • intransitive v. To fall back from the flood stage.
  • intransitive v. To fall away or back; decline or recede. See Synonyms at recede1.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The receding movement of the tide.
  • n. A gradual decline
  • n. low state, state of depression
  • n. The European bunting
  • v. to flow back or recede
  • v. to fall away or decline
  • v. to fish with stakes and nets that serve to prevent the fish from getting back into the sea with the ebb
  • adj. low, shallow

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Receding; going out; falling; shallow; low.
  • n. The European bunting.
  • n. The reflux or flowing back of the tide; the return of the tidal wave toward the sea; -- opposed to flood.
  • n. The state or time of passing away; a falling from a better to a worse state; low state or condition; decline; decay.
  • intransitive v. To flow back; to return, as the water of a tide toward the ocean; -- opposed to flow.
  • intransitive v. To return or fall back from a better to a worse state; to decline; to decay; to recede.
  • transitive v. To cause to flow back.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The reflux or falling of the tide; the return of tide-water toward the sea: opposed to flood or flow. See tide.
  • n. A flowing backward or away; decline; decay; a gradual falling off or diminution: as, the ebb of prosperity; crime is on the ebb.
  • n. A name of the common bunting, Emberiza miliaria. Montagu.
  • Not deep; shallow.
  • To flow back; return, as the water of a tide, toward the ocean; subside: opposed to flow: as, the tide ebbs and flows twice in twenty-four hours. See tide.
  • To return or recede; fall away; decline.
  • Synonyms To recede, retire, decrease, sink, lower, wane, fall away.
  • To cause to subside.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the outward flow of the tide
  • v. flow back or recede
  • n. a gradual decline (in size or strength or power or number)
  • v. fall away or decline
  • v. hem in fish with stakes and nets so as to prevent them from going back into the sea with the ebb


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English ebbe, from Old English ebba; see apo- in Indo-European roots.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English ebbe, from Old English ebba ("ebb, tide"), from Proto-Germanic *abjô, *abjōn (compare West Frisian ebbe, Dutch eb, German Ebbe, Old Norse efja ("countercurrent"), from Proto-Germanic *ab (“off, away”), from Proto-Indo-European *apó. (compare Old English af). More at of, off.


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  • 'I get the impression that all it does is ebb, rather than flow'

    —interviewee who thought they were being complimentary about a firm, but who will get out bottoms sued off if I don't swap them round before it goes to print.

    July 8, 2009