fum·​ble | \ ˈfəm-bəl How to pronounce fumble (audio) \
fumbled; fumbling\ ˈfəm-​b(ə-​)liŋ How to pronounce fumble (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 fumble (audio) \ noun
fumblingly \ ˈfəm-​b(ə-​)liŋ-​lē How to pronounce fumble (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 There’s also, Rutherford says, plenty of time to fumble the ball. Ryan Kost, San Francisco Chronicle, "'From desperation to uncertainty': As pandemic slows, Bay Area residents balance hope and the unknown," 8 Feb. 2021 The Rams forced Dillon to fumble on the second play of the ensuing possession, but Rodgers scooped up the ball. Gary Klein Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Rams’ season comes to an emotional end in playoff loss to Packers," 16 Jan. 2021 The impact caused Corbo to fumble the football for a turnover. John Kuntz, cleveland, "cleveland.com photographer John Kuntz’s favorite 20 photos from 2020," 30 Dec. 2020 In the fourth quarter with Dallas still leading by 13 points, Gregory forced Hurts to fumble at the end of a scramble at the Dallas 15, ending another scoring threat. Dallas News, "The one huge positive the Cowboys can take from their defense’s performance in 2020," 29 Dec. 2020 In Tennessee, Richardson stopped Derrick Henry on fourth and 1 on the Jets’ opening drive and then forced him to fumble on their second drive. Mary Kay Cabot, cleveland, "Browns’ Sheldon Richardson, Wyatt Teller and Malcolm Smith idle; Andrew Sendejo cleared from concussion," 23 Dec. 2020 The Dolphins nearly answered with a turnover of their own as rookie safety Brandon Jones caused Patriots quarterback Cam Newton to fumble near the sideline. Safid Deen, sun-sentinel.com, "Tua Tagovailoa scores two rushing touchdowns as Dolphins pound Patriots on the ground in 22-12 victory," 20 Dec. 2020 Trent McDuffie forced Jones to fumble on Stanford’s next drive and Edefuan Ulofoshio returned it to the Cardinal 10. Tim Booth, SFChronicle.com, "Stanford’s Austin Jones has 2 TD runs in win over No. 23 Washington," 5 Dec. 2020 Trent McDuffie forced Jones to fumble on Stanford's next drive and Edefuan Ulofoshio returned it to the Cardinal 10. Tim Booth, Star Tribune, "Jones has 2 TD runs, Stanford tops No. 23 Washington 31-26," 5 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Mertz threw three interceptions and lost a fumble against Northwestern but didn’t have any turnovers in Wisconsin’s first two games. Mark Heim | Mheim@al.com, al, "No. 10 Indiana-No. 18 Wisconsin live stream (12/5): How to watch college football online, TV, time," 5 Dec. 2020 Mertz threw three interceptions and lost a fumble against Northwestern but didn't have any turnovers in Wisconsin's first two games. Steve Megargee, Star Tribune, "No. 10 Indiana's Tuttle awaits challenge at No. 18 Wisconsin," 3 Dec. 2020 Technical difficulties are unavoidable, and there is the occasional fumble such as Gary Stevens, working from his home office, appearing to misidentify the winner by congratulating a horse and jockey who finished off the board. John Cherwa, Los Angeles Times, "Horse racing newsletter: Tierney’s ‘Takes on TV’ is back," 14 Feb. 2021 Teague scored again from 4 yards out in the second quarter after the Buckeyes recovered an Alabama fumble. BostonGlobe.com, "Perfect ending: Alabama blasts Ohio State for national title," 11 Jan. 2021 Jordan Elliott forced a big fumble against the Eagles and played a key role in slowing the Titans’ Derrick Hendry. Scott Patsko, cleveland, "Browns Winners and Losers of Week 17: Divisional trilogies, Baker Mayfield and 1-31 survivors," 4 Jan. 2021 And, in the first quarter, safety Vonn Bell produced a heavy hit to force a fumble from Smith-Schuster and reclaim possession. Ben Morse, CNN, "Pittsburgh Steelers lose third straight game in 'Muppet Night Football'," 22 Dec. 2020 Junior Jaylen Moody stepped in for Harris and forced a third-quarter fumble of Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson. Mike Rodak | Mrodak@al.com, al, "Alabama defense loses Christian Harris, still dominates latest SEC foe," 13 Dec. 2020 Carter also recovered a late fumble that Bolden forced. David Furones, sun-sentinel.com, "Ten things we learned in Miami Hurricanes’ 48-0 win over Duke," 6 Dec. 2020

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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Last Updated

23 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Fumble.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fumble. Accessed 9 Mar. 2021.

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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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for fumble

Nglish: Translation of fumble for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about fumble

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