fum·​ble | \ ˈfəm-bəl How to pronounce fumble (audio) \
fumbled; fumbling\ ˈfəm-​b(ə-​)liŋ How to pronounce fumbling (audio) \

Definition of fumble

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a : to grope for or handle something clumsily or aimlessly
b : to make awkward attempts to do or find something fumbled in his pocket for a coin
c : to search by trial and error
d : blunder
2 : to feel one's way or move awkwardly
3a : to drop or juggle or fail to play cleanly a grounder
b : to lose hold of a football while handling or running with it

transitive verb

1 : to bring about by clumsy manipulation
2a : to feel or handle clumsily
b : to deal with in a blundering way : bungle
3 : to make (one's way) in a clumsy manner
4a : misplay fumble a grounder
b : to lose hold of (a football) while handling or running



Definition of fumble (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an act or instance of fumbling
2 : a fumbled ball

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Other Words from fumble


fumbler \ ˈfəm-​b(ə-​)lər How to pronounce fumbler (audio) \ noun
fumblingly \ ˈfəm-​b(ə-​)liŋ-​lē How to pronounce fumblingly (audio) \ adverb

Examples of fumble in a Sentence


She fumbled in her pocket for her keys. They fumbled a good opportunity to take control of the market. He was hit hard and fumbled on the 20-yard line. He fumbled the ball on the 20-yard line.


played the entire piano piece without a single fumble
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

He also was seen fumbling through a purse before stuffing what authorities suspect was cash into his pocket, the document said. Sarah Horner, Twin Cities, "Ramsey County sheriff’s sergeant stole personal property during search at St. Paul home, charges say," 4 June 2019 But from this point, when things are at their most promising, Discovery fumbles the plot. Darren Orf, Popular Mechanics, "Last Night's 'Star Trek Discovery' Was a Maze of Confusion," 6 Nov. 2017 Osman said the injury happened this time as he was headed toward the hoop when LeBron James fumbled the ball out of bounds. Joe Vardon, cleveland.com, "Cavaliers' Cedi Osman felt a 'pop' in his groin that knocked him out of loss: Inside Cavs-Clippers," 2 Oct. 2017 Getting them to do their own laundry is a good first step on the journey to independence, yet many parents fumble the handoff. Mike Kerrigan, WSJ, "Cold Wash Espionage," 25 Feb. 2019 But they were rewarded for the wait when Scotland's Matt Fagerson fumbled the kick. Glynn A. Hill, Houston Chronicle, "USA hangs on to defeat Scotland in rugby thriller," 17 June 2018 The only real scoring chance for either side came late in the game when Osceola’s punter fumbled a snap to set the Hornets up on the Kowboys’ 12-yard line. Staff Report, OrlandoSentinel.com, "High school spring football 0-0 tie for Osceola-Bishop Moore, Foundation wins big," 17 May 2018 Even more of a problem: Wilson fumbled on two of those six sacks. Seattle Times Sports Staff, The Seattle Times, "What the national media are saying about the Seahawks’ 0-2 start," 18 Sep. 2018 On the first play of the fourth quarter Banaszak fumbled after picking up 13 yards on a pass and Robinson recovered on the Oakland 40. Bud Lea, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Jan. 14, 1968: Packers rout Raiders to repeat as Super Bowl champions," 18 Jan. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Thomas is Auburn’s leading returning tackler this fall, having totaled 74 last season while adding three pass breakups, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and three quarterback hurries. Tom Green | Tgreen@al.com, al.com, "Wes McGriff ‘thoroughly impressed’ with how much Daniel Thomas has changed since 2016," 6 June 2019 With the Vikings often struggling last season in the running game, Cousins threw for 4,298 yards and 30 touchdowns, along with 10 interceptions and seven lost fumbles, which were tied for the NFL lead. Chris Tomasson, Twin Cities, "Vikings GM Rick Spielman trying to push QB Kirk Cousins to ‘next level’," 6 June 2019 From hosting woes to fumbles over award announcements at the 2019 Oscars, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences can’t seem to catch a break. Joe Morgenstern, WSJ, "Oscars 2019: Cast Your Ballot," 21 Feb. 2019 Griffin forced two fumbles during each of his junior and senior seasons for the Knights. Marco Santana, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Tampa company brings on-demand home-service app to Orlando," 21 June 2018 The hope is that redshirt sophomores Ariel Ngata (11 tackles and one forced fumble in 12 games last season) and Joe Tryon (20 tackles, two TFL and one sack in 12 games) can elevate their play. Mike Vorel, The Seattle Times, "Spring practice primer: Eight (or more) breakout candidates for the UW Huskies," 27 Mar. 2019 Upshaw entered the league as a linebacker and played there for the Ravens while helping them win the Super Bowl in February 2013 by forcing a fumble that led to a touchdown drive. baltimoresun.com, "Former Raven Courtney Upshaw signs with Jets after tryout," 14 June 2018 Frazier also forced a fumble and broke up three passes. Michael Casagrande, AL.com, "D-lineman is 12th Alabama player drafted," 28 Apr. 2018 Returning All-America linebacker Devin White had five tackles, two for losses, while defensive end Breiden Fehoko had three tackles, a pair of sacks, and forced a fumble. Ron Higgins, NOLA.com, "LSU's defense outshines offense in Saturday's football scrimmage," 7 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fumble.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of fumble


1534, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a


1634, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for fumble


probably of Scandinavian origin; akin to Swedish fumla to fumble

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Statistics for fumble

Last Updated

15 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for fumble

The first known use of fumble was in 1534

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More Definitions for fumble



English Language Learners Definition of fumble

: to search for something by reaching or touching with your fingers in an awkward or clumsy way
: to handle something in an awkward or clumsy way
sports : to fail to catch or hold the ball


fum·​ble | \ ˈfəm-bəl How to pronounce fumble (audio) \
fumbled; fumbling

Kids Definition of fumble

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to feel about for or handle something in a clumsy way He fumbled in his pockets.
2 : to lose hold of the ball in football



Kids Definition of fumble (Entry 2 of 2)

: an act of losing hold of the ball in football

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More from Merriam-Webster on fumble

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with fumble

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for fumble

Spanish Central: Translation of fumble

Nglish: Translation of fumble for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about fumble

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