stum·​ble | \ ˈstəm-bəl How to pronounce stumble (audio) \
stumbled; stumbling\ ˈstəm-​b(ə-​)liŋ How to pronounce stumble (audio) \

Definition of stumble

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a : to fall into sin or waywardness
b : to make an error : blunder
c : to come to an obstacle to belief
2 : to trip in walking or running
3a : to walk unsteadily or clumsily
b : to speak or act in a hesitant or faltering manner
4a : to come unexpectedly or by chance stumble onto the truth
b : to fall or move carelessly

transitive verb

1 : to cause to stumble : trip



Definition of stumble (Entry 2 of 2)

: an act or instance of stumbling

Other Words from stumble


stumbler \ ˈstəm-​b(ə-​)lər How to pronounce stumble (audio) \ noun
stumblingly \ ˈstəm-​b(ə-​)liŋ-​lē How to pronounce stumble (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for stumble

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Verb

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Examples of stumble in a Sentence

Verb I stumbled on the uneven pavement. The horse stumbled and almost fell. He stumbled drunkenly across the room. He stumbled over to the table. I heard him stumble over the unfamiliar words. She stumbled through an apology. The economy has stumbled in recent months. Noun was his hurtful remark a regrettable stumble, or was it made with artful intention? has bones so brittle that a minor stumble could result in a serious break See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The series does stumble a bit toward the season’s end. Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times, 24 Mar. 2022 Traversing it won’t be easy, and more than a few will stumble. Tim De Chant, Ars Technica, 28 Feb. 2022 Some criticized the brand for displaying nudity, concerned that children might stumble upon the images. Washington Post, 10 Feb. 2022 Thousands upon thousands of players without physical challenges stumble along the road to an NHL dream. Bryce Miller Columnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, 14 Jan. 2022 What is the purpose of the department that Mark and Helly stumble upon in the basement, which is full of baby goats? The New Yorker, 18 Apr. 2022 Above: Since the time of my first analysis that Facebook would stumble in April of 2018, other FAAMGs have returned nearly 4X to 10X more. Beth Kindig, Forbes, 15 Apr. 2022 But where the Michelle and Eleanor segments stumble in pursuit of clarity, the Betty ones have a much more recognizable drive and spark. Caroline Framke, Variety, 12 Apr. 2022 Having three hosts worked well, giving each a chance to shine — or stumble. Rodney Ho, ajc, 28 Mar. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Winning it all is often preceded by a stumble in the conference tournament. Ben Bolch, Los Angeles Times, 9 Mar. 2022 The celebrants, many of whom had recently launched their own streaming operations, might have done better to wonder what a stumble by the market leader portends for their own services, most of them lackluster by comparison. Frank Rose, WSJ, 21 Apr. 2022 Vladimir Potanin is still negotiating business deals as his fellow oligarchs stumble, raising questions about whether this metals magnate is too big to sanction. John Hyatt, Forbes, 13 Apr. 2022 Brown Sugar — Friends since childhood, a magazine editor and a hip-hop record executive stumble into romantic territory. Andy Meek, BGR, 3 Mar. 2022 Meta's stumble pulled down other social media companies, with shares of Snap losing 17% and Twitter dropping 6% on Thursday. Aimee Picchi, CBS News, 3 Feb. 2022 Renate Reinsve plays Julie, a young woman still figuring out her career, her romantic prospects, and most of her other major decisions; Trier navigates her every relatable trip and stumble. David Sims, The Atlantic, 7 Dec. 2021 Biden's stumble came amidst some grumbling in the media about his unwillingness to sit for interviews. Joel Mathis, The Week, 22 Oct. 2021 Deputies and officers backpedal out of the condo and two officers and a deputy stumble and fall over each other. San Diego Union-Tribune, 10 Apr. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'stumble.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of stumble


14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a


1547, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for stumble


Middle English, probably of Scandinavian origin; akin to Norwegian dialect stumle to stumble

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Time Traveler for stumble

Time Traveler

The first known use of stumble was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near stumble



stumble across/on/onto/upon

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Statistics for stumble

Last Updated

24 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Stumble.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for stumble


stum·​ble | \ ˈstəm-bəl How to pronounce stumble (audio) \
stumbled; stumbling

Kids Definition of stumble

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to trip in walking, running, or dancing
2 : to walk unsteadily She stumbled around in the dark.
3 : to speak or act in a clumsy manner The student stumbled through his presentation.
4 : to come unexpectedly or accidentally We stumbled onto a clue.



Kids Definition of stumble (Entry 2 of 2)

: an act or instance of tripping or walking unsteadily

More from Merriam-Webster on stumble

Nglish: Translation of stumble for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of stumble for Arabic Speakers


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