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
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

Verb 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. Noun played the entire piano piece without a single fumble
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb On the following drive, three plays after Lindsay eclipsed 1,000 yards, the Broncos were gaining yards and running out the clock until Royce Freeman fumbled with 5:58 remaining. Ryan O’halloran, The Denver Post, "Broncos hang on to beat Oakland, 16-15, in wild finish," 29 Dec. 2019 Other games are like watching 60 minutes of fumbling with wet matches. BostonGlobe.com, "You're using a browser set to private or incognito mode.," 4 Dec. 2019 Witnesses reported hearing a single gunshot before people ran from the nightclub about 1:30 a.m. One man saw the suspected shooter fumbling with a gun and trying to put it back into his hooded sweatshirt. Adam Ferrise, cleveland, "Man shot inside downtown Cleveland nightclub, police say," 25 Nov. 2019 Their first drive ended at their 45-yard line when tight end Dallas Goedert was hit by Jaylon Smith and fumbled with Maliek Collins recovering. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Another slow start dooms Eagles in 37-10 loss to Cowboys," 20 Oct. 2019 An Oakland Mills fumble with about seven minutes left gave Long Reach life and the ball at midfield. Jacob Calvin Meyer, baltimoresun.com, "Castle ‘tough as nails’ in Oakland Mills football’s 12-8 win over Long Reach," 5 Oct. 2019 Samuel ended his first half on a downer, fumbling with 10 seconds left in the red zone. Cam Inman, The Mercury News, "49ers 31, Bucs 17: Studs and duds in a messy season opener," 8 Sep. 2019 His surprisingly active Instagram account, which has the tone of an endearing oldster fumbling with a new gadget, features his many opinions, some of them adulatory, some bitchy. Jessica Iredale, Town & Country, "Ralph Rucci: The Rise, and Fall and Rise Again of an American Couturier," 7 Aug. 2019 Moments later, Leno is speechless again as Manning fumbles with the clutch and gas, failing to get the car in gear. Jacob Feldman, SI.com, "With 'Peyton's Places' Show, Peyton Manning Puts a Face on Football," 5 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Darkness sucks down; Flea fumbles toward the light. James Parker, The Atlantic, "The Chaotic Elegance of Flea," 30 Oct. 2019 Carson Wentz threw an interception and had two of Philadelphia's three lost fumbles. NBC News, "Cowboys run over Eagles, take 1st in NFC East with 37-10 win," 21 Oct. 2019 The video itself is a total delight as Taylor, clearly still out of it from the surgery, sports a plastic eye mask to protect those peepers and fumbles to get a banana. Allie Gemmill, Teen Vogue, "Taylor Swift's Mom Andrea Recorded Her in a Hilarious Post-Surgery Video," 4 Oct. 2019 The sophomore leads the team with 86 tackles, two tackles for loss, three interceptions, 11 pass breakups and three forced fumbles. Evan Petzold, Detroit Free Press, "Eastern Michigan vs. Pittsburgh in Quick Lane Bowl: Scouting report, prediction," 26 Dec. 2019 One constant all year has been the play of outside linebacker Chandler Jones, who registered four sacks on Sunday and two more forced fumbles, raising his league-leading total in both statistics to 19 and eight, respectively. Bob Mcmanaman, azcentral, "Arizona Cardinals showed their resolve in beating Seahawks in Seattle," 23 Dec. 2019 The Browns' offense failed to capitalize on opportunities provided by the defense, including a Jackson fumble in the first quarter. Tom Schad, USA TODAY, "Ravens lock up AFC's No. 1 seed, home-field advantage with 31-15 win over Browns," 22 Dec. 2019 Wilson finished 16-for-31 for 169 yards, but was sacked five times — four by Chandler Jones, who also forced a key fumble early in the second half. Tim Booth, SFChronicle.com, "As injuries pile up, Seahawks fall to Cardinals before big game with 49ers," 22 Dec. 2019 Hyde’s TD, set up by Peyton Barber’s fumble, put the Texans up, 17-3. BostonGlobe.com, "Roby raced 27 yards up the right sideline after picking off Winston’s first pass of the game, the sixth pick-6 the Bucs quarterback has thrown this season. Jahleel Addae’s interception with 1:27 remaining, ended any realistic chance the Bucs had of fully overcoming Winston’s mistakes.," 22 Dec. 2019

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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Time Traveler for fumble

Time Traveler

The first known use of fumble was in 1534

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Statistics for fumble

Last Updated

12 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Fumble.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fumbled. Accessed 25 January 2020.

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More Definitions for fumble


How to pronounce fumble (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for fumble

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with fumble

Spanish Central: Translation of fumble

Nglish: Translation of fumble for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about fumble

Comments on fumble

What made you want to look up fumble? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


dull or mediocre

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