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

Benedictine fumbled the opening kickoff and the Irish used a trick play to score a 30-yard touchdown less than minute into the game. cleveland.com, "Check out cleveland.com High School Football Top 25 Roundup for Week 1, August 30, 2019," 31 Aug. 2019 Moeller running back Bryan White fumbled at the Irish 23-yard line. Shelby Dermer, Cincinnati.com, "Todd Naumann's reign at Moeller starts with turnover-filled 28-0 loss to Indianapolis Cathedral," 31 Aug. 2019 Losers Former Vice President Joe Biden The Democratic front-runner fumbled. Rebecca Morin, USA TODAY, "Thursday Democratic debate: Who were the winners and losers," 28 June 2019 Unlike other pop success stories that critics later fumbled over themselves to ascribe meaning to, or to divine meaning beneath during the more pop-friendly critical environs of the 2000s, Hootie remained unloved, if thought of at all. Jon Caramanica, New York Times, "Hootie & the Blowfish, Great American Rock Band (Yes, Really)," 6 June 2019 Imperial Beach has been able to write its regulations without pressure from outside groups introducing ballot initiatives because the Association of Cannabis Professionals fumbled its attempt to introduce a ballot measure in February. Gustavo Solis, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Imperial Beach to vote on marijuana regulations in June," 31 May 2018 That attack was interrupted when the shooter, who was using a 33-round clip, stopped to reload and fumbled the fresh ammunition. Griff Witte, Anchorage Daily News, "As mass shootings rise, high-capacity magazines should be the focus of lawmakers, experts say," 19 Aug. 2019 Wilton Speight entered for the final four minutes and fumbled as the ball slipped free. Cam Inman, The Mercury News, "49ers 24, Broncos 15: Top takeways amid Garoppolo’s clumsy debut," 19 Aug. 2019 The long delay was the outgrowth of a game in which the Red Sox alternately erased and fumbled two-run leads. Alex Speier, BostonGlobe.com, "At Fenway: 5½ hours, buckets of rain, and no winner," 8 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Scheufele had 51 tackles, two pass break-ups, one interception, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. Pat Stoetzer, baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll, "Fall sports previews: 3 things to watch for Carroll County football in 2019," 4 Sep. 2019 After last year's fumble, Carrie is taking a page out of her original playbook. Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "Carrie Underwood’s 'Sunday Night Football' Theme Song Is Changing Again This Year," 28 Aug. 2019 Consider its status on our end-of-the-year list a given, in spite of some imperfections and fumbles. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Review: Control is Remedy’s best game yet—and a ray tracing masterpiece," 26 Aug. 2019 However, a three-minute sequence changed the outcome for the Spartans, highlighted by a fumble that led to a 63-yard touchdown pass, long with a crucial sack in the waning moments. La Cañada Valley Sun, "La Cañada rallies to nonleague victory over Hacienda Heights Wilson in season opener," 22 Aug. 2019 In eight starts under Kyle Shanahan, Garoppolo has completed 64 percent of his throws, scored 12 total touchdowns (11 passing, one rushing) and posted eight interceptions and five fumbles (none lost). Dieter Kurtenbach, The Mercury News, "Kurtenbach: Jimmy Garoppolo’s nightmare practice highlights a big concern for the 49ers," 14 Aug. 2019 The team missed the playoffs the next two seasons, and Sanchez became a turnover machine, with 36 interceptions and 24 fumbles. Los Angeles Times, "Will the ‘butt fumble’ follow Mark Sanchez in his post-NFL career?," 23 July 2019 The former University of Maryland standout finished with nearly 500 total tackles, 13 interceptions and seven forced fumbles, according to arenafan.com. Stephen Ruiz, orlandosentinel.com, "After playing for Orlando Predators, Marlon Moye-Moore searched for new team. He found one in firefighting," 17 July 2019 The rookie had completed just one of 14 passes for four yards with two interceptions and three lost fumbles. USA TODAY, "Sports figures vs. reporters: Top confrontations, from Billy Martin to Russell Westbrook," 25 June 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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Statistics for fumble

Last Updated

7 Sep 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

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).


one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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