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

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb But watching the club stumble through its season-opening road trip through San Diego and Denver providers fodder for alarmists fearing the worst. Nick Piecoro, The Arizona Republic, "Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo staying optimistic after series loss to Rockies," 8 Apr. 2021 From the moment the pandemic began, the mainstream press has proven itself incapable of writing about Florida as anything less than a mysterious, godforsaken backwater that, somehow, has managed to stumble through this crisis despite itself. The Editors, National Review, "60 Minutes’ Dishonest DeSantis Hit Job," 5 Apr. 2021 At the same time, former stars of the Follies relive memories and stumble through old numbers, magically ventriloquized from Broadway’s past in the Sondheim songs. New York Times, "What Makes ‘Follies’ a Classic? 7 Answers and 1 Big Problem.," 31 Mar. 2021 Some politicians, and media outlets, may be looking for a scapegoat as vaccination programs stumble. Julia Horowitz, CNN, "'One mistake after the other.' How AstraZeneca went from pandemic hero to villain," 25 Mar. 2021 Even now, many Americans must wait in long lines, while others stumble through wonky appointment websites. Jonathan Levin, oregonlive, "Biden’s gamble on COVID-19 vaccines depends on a lot going right," 14 Mar. 2021 Car alarms and sirens wail as a police dispatch voice calls for all available personnel and people stumble through downtown streets littered with glass. CBS News, "Dramatic video captures officers comment on RV warning moments before Nashville bombing: "Like something out of a movie"," 29 Dec. 2020 The Giants are 4-2 in their last six games, and with a sweep of Washington in their pocket, have to be listed as the most likely to stumble through that door and into the surprising position of hosting a playoff game in January. Tim Cowlishaw, Dallas News, "While New York Giants have emerged as the favorite, Cowboys could have the final say on who captures NFC East," 29 Nov. 2020 Closing the deal is a victory for the transportation agency, which has seen a number of air-rights projects stumble over the years due to their engineering and economic complexities., "Approaching Boston from the west will never be the same: Long-planned Fenway Center’s about to rise," 18 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Even disregard Friday night’s freakish 110-106 stumble to the Sacramento Kings. Bill Plaschke, Los Angeles Times, "Column: LeBron James is back, along with Lakers’ title hopes," 1 May 2021 Watching Bill Hwang’s Archegos Capital Management hedge fund stumble triggers more traumatic memories than global finance veterans like to admit. William Pesek, Forbes, "Nouriel Roubini’s Worries About Another Financial Crash Aren’t Crazy," 9 Apr. 2021 The impact of Archegos’s stumble underscored the risks to the financial system from sophisticated investors who work with Wall Street banks to make bets using leverage. New York Times, "Banks Face Billions in Losses as a Bet on ViacomCBS and Other Stocks Goes Awry," 29 Mar. 2021 Even before this latest stumble, AstraZeneca had made missteps in reporting data and faced a blood clot scare., "Reputation of AstraZeneca’s COVID vaccine marred by missteps," 23 Mar. 2021 Their loss was a 71-70 stumble down the stretch at home against Pitt. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, "No. 4 Michigan State basketball at Northwestern: Scouting report, prediction," 19 Dec. 2020 Saturday’s impasse is just the latest stumble in a partisan, monthslong fight, and feelings hardened as the Senate congregated for a weekend session. Andrew Taylor,, "Second stimulus check updates: Fight over Federal Reserve powers stalls $900 billion COVID-19 economic relief plan," 19 Dec. 2020 But a recent stumble on the executive jet's stairs ignited fresh concerns about his fitness and scrutiny of the way the White House is managing the optics of the nation's oldest president. Rob Crilly, Washington Examiner, "Slo-mo videos and early 'lids': How the White House protects America's oldest president," 3 Apr. 2021 Archegos is the second major stumble for Credit Suisse in recent weeks. Mark Thompson, CNN, "Credit Suisse execs out as bank takes $4.7 billion hit from hedge fund collapse," 6 Apr. 2021

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


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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Statistics for stumble

Last Updated

6 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Stumble.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for stumble



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


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

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