ebb

1 of 2

noun

1
: the reflux of the tide toward the sea
2
: a point or condition of decline
our spirits were at a low ebb

ebb

2 of 2

verb

ebbed; ebbing; ebbs

intransitive verb

1
: to recede from the flood
2
: to fall from a higher to a lower level or from a better to a worse state
his popularity ebbed
Choose the Right Synonym for ebb

abate, subside, wane, ebb mean to die down in force or intensity.

abate stresses the idea of progressive diminishing.

the storm abated

subside implies the ceasing of turbulence or agitation.

the protests subsided after a few days

wane suggests the fading or weakening of something good or impressive.

waning enthusiasm

ebb suggests the receding of something (such as the tide) that commonly comes and goes.

the ebbing of daylight

Examples of ebb in a Sentence

Noun Morale seems to have reached its lowest ebb. a surprising ebb in the quality of workmanship in goods coming from that country Verb waiting for the tide to ebb the fortunes of the town slowly ebbed as factory after textile factory closed
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
VanDam hopes the craze fades, the crowds ebb and the rat hole can stay. Jonathan Edwards, Washington Post, 31 Jan. 2024 Americans put faith in nurses as overall confidence in health care ebbs Gallup polls earlier this year indicated that Americans’ level of faith in their country’s health care system is the lowest it’s been in a decade. Elizabeth Cooney, STAT, 20 Dec. 2023 Hummel’s chief business in revealing and revisiting their bond is to show how female friendships ebb and flow and ebb again. Bethanne Patrick, Los Angeles Times, 29 Dec. 2023 Muscle mass ebbs, too: Astronauts must exercise vigorously for more than two hours a day to keep in decent shape. Kim Tingley, New York Times, 12 Nov. 2023 Moreover, many political experts in both Israel and the U.S. have strong doubts that Mr. Netanyahu, whose support in polls is at low ebb, can survive politically after the war. Howard Lafranchi, The Christian Science Monitor, 7 Dec. 2023 The workforce would experience deep ebbs and some flows across Baker’s eight years. Matt Stout, BostonGlobe.com, 14 Aug. 2023 As fall ebbs and winter looms, the days may grow chilly and a little gloomy, but there is so much to celebrate: first Diwali and Thanksgiving, and now Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. Ann Maloney, Washington Post, 5 Dec. 2023 Since these sorts of goods last for a while, surges in spending on them are almost always followed by a spending ebb. Milton Ezrati, Forbes, 13 Nov. 2023
Verb
Yet if inflation continues to ebb, the current level of interest rates could be overly restrictive and drag on the economy. Krystal Hur, CNN, 15 Feb. 2024 Consumer appetite appeared to ebb quickly, however, Kuo said. Max Zahn, ABC News, 26 Jan. 2024 Police skeptics suggest violence nationwide has ebbed along with the pandemic, which brought school closures and economic disruption. Libor Jany, Los Angeles Times, 25 Jan. 2024 The Thames is two hundred and fifteen miles long, but the stretch that ebbs and surges with the saltwater tide runs from Teddington Weir, in West London, to the North Sea. Patrick Radden Keefe, The New Yorker, 5 Feb. 2024 For years, few in New Orleans questioned the hardball tactics of Mr. Connick and his prosecutors, even as crime remained high, the city’s economy declined and its population ebbed and grew poorer. Adam Nossiter, New York Times, 27 Jan. 2024 And then, as soon as the red tide had ebbed, the All Clear was sounded. Neal B. Freeman, National Review, 26 Jan. 2024 Miami did well to foist the fumes of his ebbing career on somebody else and enjoy a huge, immediate upgrade in return. Greg Cote, Miami Herald, 23 Jan. 2024 By about ’67 or ’68, Congress popularity was ebbing. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, 24 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'ebb.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

Middle English ebbe, from Old English ebba; akin to Middle Dutch ebbe ebb, Old English of from — more at of

First Known Use

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of ebb was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near ebb

Cite this Entry

“Ebb.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ebb. Accessed 2 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition

ebb

1 of 2 noun
1
: the flow away from the shore of seawater brought in by the tide
2
: a passing from a high to a low point
our spirits were at a low ebb
also : the time of such a passing

ebb

2 of 2 verb
1
: to recede from the flood
2
: to fall from a higher level or better state : weaken
her strength ebbed

More from Merriam-Webster on ebb

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