Show Search Results Show Browse

Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology

Abbreviations Cite this entry

About this entry:
First published 1952 (SND Vol. III).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

EBB, n., adj., v. [Sc. ɛb, Bch. + əib] Sc. usages:

I. n.

1. The foreshore (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), 1914 Angus Gl.; Ork. 1929 Marw.: Sh., Ork., Cai., Bnff., Abd. 1950); that part of the shore between high and low water marks on which shell fish may be gathered and sections of which may be assigned to individual fishermen. Cf. grun (ground) ebb s.v. Grund, I.4. Combs. A. (8) (b).Ork. 1700 in A. W. Johnston Church in Ork. (1940) 56:
Aleadged to have beine in the ebb and carieing dils out of the same on the Sabbath day.
Sh. a.1733 in P.S.A.S. (1892) XXVI. 201:
That none take bait nor cast tang in another man's ebb.
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 56:
The auld geudman o' Saennis wus wint tae set a selkie net doon i' the ebb.
Arg. 1914 N. Munro New Road xxiv.:
A clamour of birds out on the ebb gave him a notion that men walked there.
Sh. 1949 New Shetlander No. 19. 34:
I mind wan day dat my uncle hed gotten me ta come wi him ta da cockle ebb.

Phr.: to go to the ebb, to gather shellfish at low water (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., 1908 Jak. (1928); Ork.5, Bnff.2 1942). Cf. e.Yks. dial. to ebb, to gather fish bait.

Combs.: (1) ebb-bait, shellfish collected in the ebb for use as bait (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., 1914 Angus Gl.); (2) ebb-fish, edible shellfish (Ork.2 1948); (3) ebb-meat, id. (Sh.10 (obsol.), Ork.5 1949); (4) ebb-midder, -mother, the last of the ebb-tide (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., -mother; 1914 Angus Gl., -midder); “a very heavy current in Yell sound . . . a very heavy wave running further up the shore than the rest” (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), -midder); cf. moderdäi, s.v. Die, n.2; ‡(5) ebb-pikker, the purple sand-piper, Erolica maritima (Ib.); (6) ebb-sleeper, dunlin or plover page, Erolica alpina (Sh. 1837 R. Dunn Ornithol. Guide 87; 1914 Angus Gl.); so called “from these birds resting themselves in the shallows — ebbs; or from their posting themselves on the sand exposed by the ebbing tide” (Sh. 1885 C. Swainson Brit. Birds 194); ‡(7) ebb-snippek, -ik, (a) = (6) (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928); 1914 Angus Gl., -ik); (b) the turnstone, Arenaria interpres (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)); (c) = (5) (Ib.); (8) ebb-ste(e)n, a stone in or from the ebb (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl., -sten; Sh.10 1949; Ork.1 1941, -steen); in pl., the seashore (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928); Sh.10 1949).(2) Ork. 1929 Marw.:
I was lookan for ebb-fish.
(3) Ork. c.1893 W. R. Mackintosh Pea-fires 72:
The shores were divided amongst the inhabitants that they might gather the ebb-meat and dulse at low water, and thus be saved from starvation.
Ork. c.1912 J. Omond Ork. 80 Years Ago 10:
Potatoes and herring was a very common diet, and in hard times even ebb meat (shell fish).
(8) Sh. 1877 G. Stewart Fireside Tales 32:
He wis pickin' at da side o' a muckle ebb stane.
Sh. 1937 J. Nicolson Yarns 79:
It was also “forbidden” to throw fish bones into the fire: — “Boil me an' eat me, bit burn no my banes, An' ye s'all never want me aroond da ebb-stanes.”

2. (1) A shallow. Used fig. in quot.Bch. 1804 W. Tarras Poems 15:
What's that to you, tho' drumly flieps Sit thinkin on their weirds, Their black mishanters, ebbs and deeps At corsin o' life's fierds?

(2) A shallow pit in a mine (w.Lth. 1933 (per Bnff.12)); cf. 1886 quot. under adj. 2.

II. adj. Shallow.

1. Of water, or of vessels and their contents (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Bnff., Abd., m.Lth., Rxb. 1950); of cloth, etc.: narrow (Dmf. 1894 J. Shaw W.-L. in Trans. Dmf. and Gall. Antiq. Soc. 146).Dmf. 1705 Morison Decisions 12776:
Mill Dam-dikes being low, and not a foot and a half above the ebbest water.
Rxb. 1807 J. Ruickbie Wayside Cottager 169:
The good apostle's whiskey cask, Would grow but little ebber.
Rxb. 1931 T. Henderson in Letter (25 July):
The term was used by one of our workers in describing a garment, which he said was “raither ebb” meaning “too narrow.”

Also used fig. of the mind, and in comb. ebb-minded, of a shallow or frivolous disposition.Bch. 1804 W. Tarras Poems 25:
An', L . . d, he's o' an ebb extraction, That lippens to the kirk's protection.
Lnk. 1895 W. C. Fraser Whaups of Durley iii.:
These “muckle ebb-minded callants” . . . would seize the book.
Sc.(E) 1926 “H. M'Diarmid” Drunk Man 40:
Oor een gi'e answers based on pairt-seen facts That beg a' questions, to ebb minds' content.

2. Of ground, particularly with reference to ploughing or mining (Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn; Slg.3 1918; Mry.1 1925; Bnff.2, Abd.2, Abd.27 1942).Abd. 1726 in Process Powis v. Fraserfield (1805) 319:
He had made the ditch so very narrow and ebb, that but very little water entered into it; and the sea flowing up levelled a great deal of his trenches.
Sc. 1733 P. Lindsay Interest Scot. 149:
The first Plowing should be as deep as the Soil will admit of, and thereafter plowed with an ebb Furrow.
Cld. 1794 J. Naismith Agric. Cld. 60:
In lands that are light and easy, or in breaking up turf, with an ebb furrow, two horses without a driver are now frequently used.
Sc. 1819 Scott Bride of Lamm. xxiv.:
Six feet deep, and a warlock's grave shouldna be an inch mair ebb.
Lnk. 1866 D. Wingate Annie Weir 15:
Frae another ebber pit. . . . Three weary days they, hour aboot, had redd.
Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 26:
A seam is ebb when near the surface, the pit is ebb which is sunk to it.
Abd. 1933 J. H. Smythe Blethers 16:
For ere she wins doon this his tae be deen, As the lair is ower ebb for the twa.

III. v. To make shallow. Rare.Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 492:
He generally carried with him a flask of good spirits, and plenty of cash to buy more when it began to be ebbed.

[O.Sc. has eb(b), foreshore (mainly Ork.), from 1488.]

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"Ebb n., adj., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 May 2024 <>



Hide Advanced Search

Browse SND: