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

The Saints challenged the play, and it was reversed as Goff did fumble the ball. Khadrice Rollins, SI.com, "Saints Still Can't Catch a Break vs. Rams, Get Robbed of Fumble Return Touchdown," 15 Sep. 2019 Then the Bison took a 14-0 lead, scoring on three plays after Highland Park fumbled the kickoff. Steve Sadin, chicagotribune.com, "Highland Park’s versatile Mauer always thinking ahead, looking for the unexpected," 15 Sep. 2019 Edison, which fumbled a kickoff reception to set up a touchdown that upped the Stallions’ lead to 17-0 with 10:34 left in the second quarter, lost two additional fumbles to temporarily stymie its comeback mission. Daily Pilot, "Edison football comes back from 17-point deficit to beat San Juan Hills," 13 Sep. 2019 Roderick also carried 14 times for 74 yards, but fumbled once. Andrew J. Campa, Burbank Leader, "Rare undefeated run continues for Burroughs football," 13 Sep. 2019 More heartbreak came for the Browns in 1988, when Byner fumbled at the 1-yard line while trying to score a touchdown to pull within a point of Denver during the AFC title game. Fortune, "Could Baker Mayfield and Odell Beckham, Jr. Be Worth More to Cleveland Than LeBron?," 7 Sep. 2019 U-M's offense certainly didn't help matters — two of the Black Knights' three scoring drives came after the offense fumbled. Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan football's defense has game-sealing play, a gem of a performance, vs. Army," 7 Sep. 2019 When Shawnee fumbled on the first possession, Goeso wasted little time and scored on the ensuing play, the first of eight touchdowns of the night. David J. Kim, The Courier-Journal, "Seneca High School football beats Shawnee for its first win since 2016," 6 Sep. 2019 The Seminoles punted on three of their four drives in the third quarter while fumbling away the ball on the other possession. Matt Murschel, orlandosentinel.com, "Boise State captures thriller at FSU after rough trip | Commentary," 1 Sep. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Each team recovered fumbles in the first half, but didn’t put points on the board as a result of those. Rob Tate, Houston Chronicle, "Foster passing game helps take down Magnolia West," 14 Sep. 2019 The Wolverines were plagued by three fumbles in the first 30 minutes that stalled drives. Erick Smith, USA TODAY, "No. 7 Michigan survives upset bid from Army in overtime," 7 Sep. 2019 The Cardinal also recorded three sacks and recovered two fumbles. Steve Kroner, SFChronicle.com, "Stanford at USC football preview: Players to watch, story lines, TV info," 6 Sep. 2019 The 6-foot linebacker's totaled 75 tackles, two pass deflections and one forced fumble in Cincinnati. Tyler Dragon, Cincinnati.com, "Cincinnati Bengals sign RB Giovani Bernard to two-year contract extension," 3 Sep. 2019 Johnny Chaney forced a West Orange fumble in the first quarter. Lynn Ramsey, orlandosentinel.com, "Wekiva scores 41 unanswered points to beat West Orange," 31 Aug. 2019 Courtney Upshaw, an outside linebacker from Eufaula, started and made five tackles, including one behind the line of scrimmage, and forced a fumble in the Ravens' 34-31 victory over the 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII on Feb. 3, 2013. Mark Inabinett, AL.com, "Chance Warmack joins Alabama's roster of Super Bowl winners," 5 Feb. 2018 Roger Staubach holds the career record for most fumbles in Super Bowl play, with five in four games. Ed Barkowitz, Philly.com, "Super Bowl trivia: Thursday's quick quiz," 1 Feb. 2018 Last year’s Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year as a middle linebacker at Washington, the Sacred Heart Prep graduate recorded one tackle and forced a big fumble in his NFL debut — a 21-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. Phil Jensen, The Mercury News, "Bay Area Preps HQ: Next Level," 10 Sep. 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

19 Oct 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

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to be made up of

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