Definitions

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

Etymologies

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.

Examples

  • But I also hear what you say about blogging having a certain ebb-and-flow energy to it.

    The Honest Scrap Meme « Tales from the Reading Room

  • This point, or ebb, is called the uncanny valley - see the chart below.

    Archive 2008-12-01

  • My appreciation for Joe Biden has been subject to a certain ebb and flow over the years.

    Archive 2004-10-01

  • During that period, which dates from the founding of the journal Annales in 1929, a succession of eminent French scholars taught the history profession to turn its back on politics and to contemplate the long-term ebb and flow of currents running deep beneath the frothy stuff of battles and elections.

    Revolution sans Revolutionaries

  • "What made you try the South Channel in ebb tide and an inshore wind?"

    Spice and the Devil's Cave

  • "It is vat you call ebb," said the French captain.

    Marmaduke Merry A Tale of Naval Adventures in Bygone Days

  • You can see the long term ebb and flow of cycle allocation over time.

    Safehaven

  • Fear and insecurity have a certain ebb and flow, so it’s nice to be able to shore up those who need it when we’re feeling strong, and receive the same in return when our tide goes out.

    Writer Unboxed » Blog Archive » Peeps Aren’t Only for Easter

  • Even at its lowest ebb, which is to say around the book's baggy midsection, Buchanan's debut remains a compelling read.

    Today in Fantasy: March 4, 2010

  • His understanding of his situation was painfully accurate: he was marooned upon what a flood tide made a desert island but which at the ebb was a peninsula -- a long and narrow strip of sand, bounded on the west by the broad, shallow channel to the ocean, on the east connected with the mainland by a sandbar which half the day lay submerged.

    The Bronze Bell

Comments

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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