What is the the difference between the verbs dwindle, dissipate and ebb in terms meaning?

to dwindle means:

Diminish gradually in size, amount, or strength

Though she was many miles away, he felt her aura gradually dim and dwindle until it faded completely away…


to dissipate means:

to gradually disappear by becoming less strong, or to make something do this

(With reference to a feeling or emotion) disappear or cause to disappear

The concern she’d felt for him had wholly dissipated

He wanted to dissipate his anger



to ebb means:

(Of an emotion or quality) gradually decrease

He sighed, a bit of the anger ebbing away from his countenance


1 Answer 1


They all mean something like reduce but the means of reduction changes in each case.

Dwindle: become smaller without spreading. A pond dwindles as the sun dries it up.

Dissipate: Become less concentrated and fade away. A column of smoke dissipates as the wind blows it around.

Ebb: Reduce the level of something. The tide ebbs as it drops from the daily high tide to the daily low tide.

Over time, his anger ebbed/dissipated/dwindled.

Any of these three would work fine - they have slightly different flavors, as suggested above.

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