From Middle English ebbe, from Old English ebba (“ebb, tide”), from Proto-Germanic *abjô, *abjǭ (compare West Frisian ebbe, Dutch eb, German Ebbe, Danish ebbe, Old Norse efja (“countercurrent”)), from Proto-Germanic *ab (“off, away”), from Proto-Indo-European *apó. (compare Old English af). More at of, off.
ebb (plural ebbs)
- The receding movement of the tide.
The boats will go out on the ebb.
- 1824, Mary Shelley, Time
- Thou shoreless flood which in thy ebb and flow / Claspest the limits of morality!
- 1902, John Buchan, The Outgoing of the Tide
- Men come from distant parts to admire the tides of Solway, which race in at flood and retreat at ebb with a greater speed than a horse can follow.
- A gradual decline.
- 1684, Wentworth Dillon, 4th Earl of Roscommon, Essay on Translated Verse
- Thus all the treasure of our flowing years, / Our ebb of life for ever takes away.
- 1826, Mary Shelley, The Last Man
- This reflection thawed my congealing blood, and again the tide of life and love flowed impetuously onward, again to ebb as my busy thoughts changed.
- (especially in the phrase 'at a low ebb') A low state; a state of depression.
- Painting was then at its lowest ebb.
- 2002, Joyce Carol Oates, The New Yorker, 22 & 29 April
- A "lowest ebb" implies something singular and finite, but for many of us, born in the Depression and raised by parents distrustful of fortune, an "ebb" might easily have lasted for years.
2020 July 29, Dr Joseph Brennan, “Railways that reach out over the waves”, in Rail, page 51:
The 1987 book British Piers was written at a time when Britain's seaside resorts were perhaps at their lowest ebb, with a groundswell of support for rejuvenation and conservation just beginning.
- A European bunting, the corn bunting (Emberiza calandra, syns. Emberiza miliaria, Milaria calandra).
receding movement of the tide
ebb (third-person singular simple present ebbs, present participle ebbing, simple past and past participle ebbed)
- (intransitive) to flow back or recede
The tides ebbed at noon.
- (intransitive) to fall away or decline
The dying man's strength ebbed away.
- (intransitive) to fish with stakes and nets that serve to prevent the fish from getting back into the sea with the ebb
- (transitive) To cause to flow back.
ebb away, ebb down, ebb off, ebb out, reflux, wane
to fall away or decline
- Bulgarian: спадам (bg) (spadam)
- Catalan: baixar (ca), retirar-se (ca), refluir (ca) (la marea)
- Cantonese: 減退 (gaam2 teoi3)
- Dutch: wegebben (nl)
- French: refluer (fr), décliner (fr)
- Galician: vazar
- Georgian: დაკნინება (daḳnineba), დაქვეითება (dakveiteba), რეგრესი (regresi)
- German: ebben (de), abebben (de)
- Hungarian: apad (hu), hanyatlik (hu), fogy (hu), fogyatkozik (hu), gyengül (hu)
ebb (comparative ebber, superlative ebbest)
- low, shallow
1601, G[aius] Plinius Secundus [i.e., Pliny the Elder], “(please specify |book=I to XXXVII)”, in Philemon Holland, transl., The Historie of the VVorld. Commonly Called, The Natvrall Historie of C. Plinivs Secvndus. […], (please specify |tome=1 or 2), London: […] Adam Islip, published 1635, OCLC 1180792622:
- All the sea lying betweene, is verie ebbe, full of shallowes and shelves