fu·​nam·​bu·​lism | \ fyu̇-ˈnam-byə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce funambulism (audio) \

Definition of funambulism

1 : tightrope walking
2 : a show especially of mental agility

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from funambulism

funambulist \ fyu̇-​ˈnam-​byə-​list How to pronounce funambulist (audio) \ 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 the Latin funis, meaning "rope," plus ambulare, meaning "to walk." It doesn't take any funambulism on our part to see how the word for an impressive act of physical skill and agility came to mean an impressive act of mental skill or agility. That extended sense of the word has been around since at least 1886, when British academic and writer Augustus Jessopp described the act of diagramming sentences as "horrible lessons of ghastly grammar and dreary funambulism."

First Known Use of funambulism

1801, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for funambulism

Latin funambulus ropewalker, from funis rope + ambulare to walk

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about funambulism

Time Traveler for funambulism

Time Traveler

The first known use of funambulism was in 1801

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about funambulism

Statistics for funambulism

Cite this Entry

“Funambulism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Jul. 2020.

More from Merriam-Webster on funambulism

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with funambulism

Comments on funambulism

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


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

A More Exception(al) Quiz

  • hot dog  hot dog  hot dog  hot dog cat
  • Which of the following words is not a synonym for ‘a young person’?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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