fu·​nam·​bu·​lism fyu̇-ˈnam-byə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce funambulism (audio)
: tightrope walking
: a show especially of mental agility
funambulist noun

Did you know?

Back in ancient Rome, tightrope walking was a popular spectacle at public gatherings. The Latin word for "tightrope walker" is funambulus, from Latin funis, meaning "rope," and ambulare, "to walk." Over time, this fancy word for an impressive act of physical skill and agility also came to mean an impressive act of mental skill or agility.

Word History


Latin funambulus ropewalker, from funis rope + ambulare to walk

First Known Use

1801, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of funambulism was in 1801


Dictionary Entries Near funambulism

Cite this Entry

“Funambulism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2024.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!