ebb

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Related to ebbed: Low Water Mark

at (something's) lowest ebb

In a state of decline; less or lower than the typical standard or expectation. The charity struggled to help those in need, as outside donations were at their lowest ebb in years.
See also: ebb, low

low ebb

A state of decline. The economy is at a low ebb with no hope of recovery in the near future.
See also: ebb, low

ebb and flow

to decrease and then increase, as with tides; a decrease followed by an increase, as with tides. The fortunes of the major political parties tend to ebb and flow over time. The ebb and flow of democracy through history is a fascinating subject.
See also: and, ebb, flow

ebb away

to recede; to subside; to flow back. His life ebbed away little by little. As the sunlight ebbed away, the sky took on a grayish color.
See also: away, ebb

the ebb and flow of something

the continually changing character of something There is a normal ebb and flow in nature, for example, when there is just the right amount of rain and when there is not enough.
Usage notes: often said about something that regularly gets larger and smaller: There's a constant ebb and flow of traffic on the highway.
Related vocabulary: ups and downs
See also: and, ebb, flow, of

at (a) low ebb

(slightly formal) also at its lowest ebb
below the usual condition or standard The divorce comes at a time when Jackson's career is at a low ebb. Support for the arts has reached its lowest ebb and we hope it won't go any lower.
Related vocabulary: up to par
See also: ebb, low

the ebb and flow

the way in which the level of something frequently becomes higher or lower in a situation (often + of ) The government did nothing about the recession, hoping it was just part of the ebb and flow of the economy.
See also: and, ebb, flow

a low ebb

a bad state (not used with the ) Respect for the police is at a low ebb. I'd just separated from my wife and was at a fairly low ebb. (= was feeling sad and without hope) Relations between the two countries have reached their lowest ebb (= are the worst they have been) since the second world war.
See also: ebb, low

at a low ebb

At a low point, in a state of decline or depression. For example, The current recession has put our business at a low ebb. This idiom transfers the low point of a tide to a decline in human affairs. [Mid-1600s]
See also: ebb, low

ebb and flow

A decline and increase, constant fluctuations. For example, He was fascinated by the ebb and flow of the Church's influence over the centuries. This expression alludes to the inward and outward movement of ocean tides. [Late 1500s]
See also: and, ebb, flow
References in classic literature ?
Oppression sat heavily upon them; the lightness of their natures had ebbed out of them; they were slack and absent- minded in their service, and they whispered gloomily to one another in the far end of the car next to the kitchen.
This was a post of great importance, for, as you know, the monasteries were the schools and libraries of the country, and they were the inns too, so all the true life of the land ebbed and flowed through the monasteries.
Too long and too deeply had life ebbed down in him to bite him with fear of its impending extinction.
One had the sense of a backwater, or rather of an estuary, whose waters flowed in from the invisible sea, and ebbed into a profound silence while the waves without were still beating.
But his strength ebbed, his eyes glazed, and he knew nothing when the train was flagged and the two men threw him into the baggage car.
I might still shoot, they tell me, but my strength has ebbed away.
No search had been made up here, for the tide had been running strongly down, at that time of the night of Christmas Eve, and the likeliest places for the discovery of a body, if a fatal accident had happened under such circumstances, all lay--both when the tide ebbed, and when it flowed again--between that spot and the sea.
The blood ebbed from her face with the apprehension and fear his appearance caused.