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From Middle English ebbe, from Old English ebba (ebb, tide), from Proto-Germanic *abjô, *abjǭ (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.


  • enPR: ĕb, IPA(key): /ɛb/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛb


ebb (plural ebbs)

  1. The receding movement of the tide.
    The boats will go out on the ebb.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Shelley
      Thou shoreless flood which in thy ebb and flow / Claspest the limits of morality!
  2. A gradual decline.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Roscommon
      Thus all the treasure of our flowing years, / Our ebb of life for ever takes away.
    • Shelley, Mary, 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.
  3. A low state; a state of depression.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Dryden
      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.
  4. A European bunting, the corn bunting (Emberiza calandra, syn. Emberiza miliaria, Milaria calandra).


Derived termsEdit

Related termsEdit



ebb (third-person singular simple present ebbs, present participle ebbing, simple past and past participle ebbed)

  1. (intransitive) to flow back or recede
    The tides ebbed at noon.
  2. (intransitive) to fall away or decline
    The dying man's strength ebbed away.
  3. (intransitive) to fish with stakes and nets that serve to prevent the fish from getting back into the sea with the ebb
  4. (transitive) To cause to flow back.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Ford to this entry?)


ebb away, ebb down, ebb off, ebb out, reflux, wane



ebb (comparative ebber, superlative ebbest)

  1. low, shallow
    • (Can we date this quote?) Holland
      The water there is otherwise very low and ebb.




ebb c

  1. ebb; low tide
    Antonyms: flod, högvatten
    Synonym: lågvatten


Declension of ebb 
Indefinite Definite
Nominative ebb ebben
Genitive ebbs ebbens