the flowing back of the tide as the water returns to the sea (opposed to flood, flow ).
a flowing backward or away; decline or decay: the ebb of a once great nation.
a point of decline: His fortunes were at a low ebb.
verb (used without object)
to flow back or away, as the water of a tide (opposed to flow ).
to decline or decay; fade away: His life is gradually ebbing.

before 1000; (noun) Middle English eb(be), Old English ebba; cognate with Old Frisian ebba, Dutch eb(be), German Ebbe ebb, Old Norse efja place where water backs up; (v.) Middle English ebben, Old English ebbian, derivative of the noun; akin to off

unebbed, adjective
unebbing, adjective

4. subside, abate, recede, retire. 5. dwindle, diminish, decrease.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
ebb (ɛb)
1.  Compare flow (of tide water) to flow back or recede
2.  to fall away or decline
3.  a.  the flowing back of the tide from high to low water or the period in which this takes place
 b.  Compare flood (as modifier): the ebb tide
4.  at a low ebb in a state or period of weakness, lack of vigour, or decline
[Old English ebba; related to Old Norse efja river bend, Gothic ibuks moving backwards, Old High German ippihōn to roll backwards, Middle Dutch ebbe ebb]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. ebba, perhaps from P.Gmc. *abjon, from *ab-, from PIE base *apo- "off, away" (see apo-). Figurative sense of "decline, decay" is c.1400. Related: Ebbed; ebbing.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


In addition to the idioms beginning with ebb, also see at a low ebb.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
The ebb and flow of batlle will call for flexability .
As the upward thrust contains the city's energy, the outward ebb releases it.
With evolving Web expertise and the ebb and flow in site visitors, shopping
  online hasn't always been easy.
No doubt moods and attitudes will fluctuate with the ebb and flow of economic
Idioms & Phrases
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