1. The receding or outgoing tide, occurring between the time when the tide is highest and the time when the following tide is lowest. Also called ebb tide, falling tide.
2. A period of decline or diminution: "Insistence upon rules of conduct marks the ebb of religious fervor" (Alfred North Whitehead).
intr.v. ebbed, ebb·ing, ebbs
1. To fall back from the flood stage.
2. To fall away or back; decline or recede. See Synonyms at recede1.
[Middle English ebbe, from Old English ebba; see apo- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.