When something ebbs, it is declining, falling, or flowing away. The best time to look for sea creatures in tidal pools is when the tide is on the ebb — meaning it has receded from the shore.

Ebb is often used in the phrase, "ebb and flow," referring to the cyclical changing of the tides from low to high and back to low again. This sense of cyclical change can also be applied to other things. If you want to make money investing, you have to weather the ebb and flow of the stock market.

Definitions of ebb
  1. noun
    the outward flow of the tide
    synonyms: reflux
    see moresee less
    type of:
    flow, flowing
    the motion characteristic of fluids (liquids or gases)
  2. noun
    a gradual decline (in size or strength or power or number)
    synonyms: ebbing, wane
    see moresee less
    type of:
    decline, diminution
    change toward something smaller or lower
  3. verb
    flow back or recede
    “the tides ebbed at noon”
    synonyms: ebb away, ebb down, ebb off, ebb out
    see moresee less
    surge, tide
    rise or move forward
    type of:
    fall back
    move back and away from
  4. verb
    fall away or decline
    “The patient's strength ebbed away”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    become faint or more distant
  5. verb
    hem in fish with stakes and nets so as to prevent them from going back into the sea with the ebb
    see moresee less
    type of:
    beleaguer, besiege, circumvent, hem in, surround
    surround so as to force to give up
Word Family

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by Vocabulary.com’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week