stumble

verb
stum·​ble | \ ˈstəm-bəl \
stumbled; stumbling\ ˈstəm-​b(ə-​)liŋ \

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

stumble

noun

Definition of stumble (Entry 2 of 2)

: an act or instance of stumbling

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Other Words from stumble

Verb

stumbler \ ˈstəm-​b(ə-​)lər \ noun
stumblingly \ ˈstəm-​b(ə-​)liŋ-​lē \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for stumble

Synonyms: Verb

fall, slip, topple, trip, tumble

Synonyms: Noun

blunder, bobble, boo-boo, boob [British], brick, clanger [British], clinker, error, fault, flub, fluff, fumble, gaff, gaffe, goof, inaccuracy, lapse, miscue, misstep, mistake, oversight, screwup, slip, slipup, trip

Antonyms: Verb

get up, rise, stand (up), uprise

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The central bank has been at such crossroads before in the past quarter-century, averting recession while raising rates in 1994 and 2015, but stumbling into downturns at other moments, such as 2001 and 2008. Eric Morath, WSJ, "Fed Faces a Fresh Test: Engineering a Soft Economic Landing," 6 Jan. 2019 But that doesn’t mean Crazy Rich Asians stumbled or failed. Alex Abad-santos, Vox, "Crazy Rich Asians’ crazy rich success could mean more stories about less crazy rich Asian-American people.," 21 Dec. 2018 But there is direct evidence that the indigenous people of Rapa Nui were drinking brackish coastal water long before Europeans stumbled onto the scene. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "How did Easter Islanders survive without wells or streams?," 17 Oct. 2018 Venture capital firms, which succeed based on inside access with rising entrepeneurs and by recognizing patterns across companies, can often stumble when moving from an older set of investors to a younger set. Theodore Schleifer, Recode, "One of the most successful investors in Silicon Valley, Matt Cohler, will step back at Benchmark," 1 Oct. 2018 These stumbling zombies are neither fast, nor slow, but all extremely dumb. Jason Zinoman, New York Times, "Review: In ‘The Night Eats the World,’ Zombie Apocalypse Now, Again," 12 July 2018 The man stumbled a few blocks away to New York and Hull, where a friend called 911, Crowson said. Samantha Ketterer, Houston Chronicle, "Man wounded in drive-by shooting in Houston's South Side," 5 July 2018 Related stories from Miami Herald Trump stumbles through ‘God Bless America’ What is happening to our country? Fabiola Santiago, miamiherald, "The real fireworks this 4th of July? National anxiety. What’s happening to our country?," 4 July 2018 And, crucially, there's a place for developers to go if Microsoft stumbles. Klint Finley, WIRED, "GitHub Developers Are Giving Microsoft a Chance," 30 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Such is Major League Soccer, a tale of long, long regular seasons in which teams can stumble, recover, stumble and then recover again to win it all. Geoff Baker, The Seattle Times, "Forget the playoffs, Sounders now have a shot at a first-round bye," 14 Aug. 2018 What's on Musk's mind is usually only a check of Twitter away, where he is known for missives that range from arch to tart when Tesla's stumbles are raised. Marco Della Cava, USA TODAY, "Elon Musk and Tesla pull few punches defending pioneering car company, even after accidents," 30 Apr. 2018 Would Trump interpret no wall money before October 1 as a stumble in the playoffs? Chad Pergram, Fox News, "How potential government shutdown could throw wrench into Brett Kavanaugh confirmation," 31 July 2018 Whether Sears can actually survive this latest stumble remains to be seen. Gaby Del Valle, Vox, "Sears has filed for bankruptcy, but that doesn’t mean it’s shutting down," 15 Oct. 2018 Every stumble out of a nightclub or wardrobe malfunction became front-page news. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Lady Gaga's 2009 MTV Video Music Awards Performance Was a Warning Pop Culture Needed," 17 Aug. 2018 Katy Perry, at least, looks first visibly alarmed -- then just bored -- throughout the night, as these once-promising hopefuls stumble left and right. Robbie Daw, Billboard, "'American Idol' Top 14 Give Lackluster Performances: Critic's Take," 23 Apr. 2018 Some contend the market’s 2018 stumbles aren’t all bad. Michael Wursthorn, WSJ, "No Refuge for Investors as 2018 Rout Sends Stocks, Bonds, Oil Lower," 25 Nov. 2018 But even Democrats are doubtful of Cruz making any stumbles that would cause voters to peel off. Paul J. Weber, The Seattle Times, "Cruz, O’Rourke debate may be last chance for big moment," 15 Oct. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of stumble

Verb

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

Noun

1547, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for stumble

Verb

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

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Statistics for stumble

Last Updated

14 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for stumble

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

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More Definitions for stumble

stumble

verb

English Language Learners Definition of stumble

: to hit your foot on something when you are walking or running so that you fall or almost fall

: to walk in an awkward way

: to speak or act in an awkward way

stumble

verb
stum·​ble | \ ˈstəm-bəl \
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.

stumble

noun

Kids Definition of stumble (Entry 2 of 2)

: an act or instance of tripping or walking unsteadily

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More from Merriam-Webster on stumble

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with stumble

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for stumble

Spanish Central: Translation of stumble

Nglish: Translation of stumble for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of stumble for Arabic Speakers

Comments on stumble

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