Definition of ebb in English:

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Pronunciation: /ɛb/


(usually the ebb)
The movement of the tide out to sea: the tide was on the ebb [as modifier]: the ebb tide
More example sentences
  • The hardest thing about this lock is if you have a boat coming in on the ebb tide.
  • If you must go out on to the sands go out when the tide is on the ebb so that if you do get stuck we have a chance of getting you out.
  • The tide was on the ebb, the sand was firm and wide.
receding, going out, flowing back, retreat, retreating, drawing back, abating, subsiding
rare retrocession


[no object]
1(Of tidewater) move away from the land; recede: the tide began to ebb Compare with flow.
More example sentences
  • The tide that had risen some time ago, the house had sunk in it, but now the water had ebbed and the man was where he should have been - on the shore.
  • When the high water ebbs and the water in the lagoon and the sea reach the same level, the gates are filled once again with water until they return to their original position.
  • These might contain a couple of feet of water or a mere stream when the tide ebbs, but quickly become deep, surging rivers of seawater when it flows.
recede, go out, retreat, flow back, draw back, fall back, fall away, abate, subside
rare retrocede
2(Of an emotion or quality) gradually decrease: my enthusiasm was ebbing away
More example sentences
  • I closed my eyes and gradually felt the hurt and disappointment ebbing away when I felt his arms enveloping me, encasing me in his warmth.
  • He sighed, a bit of the anger ebbing away from his countenance.
  • I breathe deeply and slowly, and gradually the sinking feeling ebbs and I lift my head.
diminish, dwindle, wane, fade away, melt away, peter out, decline, die away, die down, die out, flag, let up, lessen, decrease, weaken, dissolve, disappear, come to an end;
deteriorate, decay, degenerate
archaic remit
abatement, subsiding, easing, waning, dwindling, petering out, dying away, dying down, dying out, fading away, de-escalation, decrease, decline, diminution, diminishing, lessening



at a low ebb

In a weakened or depressed state: the country was at a low ebb due to the recent war
More example sentences
  • The drought continues and fishing activity is at a low ebb.
  • Whether or not you believe that the War on Iraq was justified, transparency and accountability in our democracy appears to be at a low ebb.
  • Morale at top management level is said to be at a low ebb.

ebb and flow

A recurrent pattern of coming and going or decline and regrowth: the ebb and flow of state politics and power
More example sentences
  • It emerges from the ebb and flow of collective grievances and struggles for power.
  • There have been specific tactical changes and an ebb and flow of activity.
  • He is more generous with the conversational ebb and flow than he needs to be.


Old English ebba (noun), ebbian (verb), of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch ebbe (noun), ebben (verb), and ultimately to of which had the primary sense 'away from'.

Words that rhyme with ebb

Aurangzeb, bleb, celeb, deb, pleb, reb, web, Webb

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: ebb

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