stum·​ble | \ ˈstəm-bəl How to pronounce stumble (audio) \
stumbled; stumbling\ ˈstəm-​b(ə-​)liŋ How to pronounce stumbling (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 stumbler (audio) \ noun
stumblingly \ ˈstəm-​b(ə-​)liŋ-​lē How to pronounce stumblingly (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 Like their rivals to the south in Ohio, the Wolverines are stumbling lately. Joe Williams, USA TODAY Sportsbook Wire, "Purdue at Michigan college basketball odds, picks and best bets," 9 Jan. 2020 During a July debate, Biden stumbled over numerous statistics, phrases, and titles. Emily Larsen, Washington Examiner, "Biden confuses Iraq and Iran in foreign policy speech," 7 Jan. 2020 In all, Stephanie Hofeller stumbled upon thousands of files stored on four hard drives and 18 thumb drives. Melissa Quinn, CBS News, "Daughter of deceased GOP redistricting expert releases trove of documents," 6 Jan. 2020 But last month, in the finale of a successful, if uneven, regular season, the Patriots notably stumbled, losing to the last-place Miami Dolphins. Bill Pennington, New York Times, "Tom Brady and the Patriots Are Upset by the Titans in a Stunner," 5 Jan. 2020 Gordon stumbled, clasping his chest and collapsed behind his van. oregonlive, "Teen tied to two deadly Portland shootings in 2019 that occurred within 42 hours of each other in SE Portland, police say," 1 Jan. 2020 Like Louisville, the Hilltoppers stumbled in 2018 (three wins) and looked to a new coach to change that trend. Hayes Gardner, The Courier-Journal, "Bowl wins highlight bright future for Bluegrass State's FBS teams," 31 Dec. 2019 Instead, Perkins stumbled into fashion history by inadvertently creating the first aniline dye, a deep mauve that was soon dubbed Perkin’s purple. Nancy Macdonell, WSJ, "Purple’s Past Is Richer Than You Think," 31 Dec. 2019 The Wildcats stumbled with losses to Baylor, Gonzaga and St. John’s but have the type of roster that could make a deep March run. John Marshall, The Denver Post, "Pac-12 builds expectations after strong nonconference season," 29 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun All these stumbles have led to repeated premium increases that have threatened to make coverage unaffordable right when people need their coverage the most. Liz Weston, oregonlive, "Liz Weston: Insurance premium hikes can make coverage unaffordable right when it’s needed most," 22 Dec. 2019 Would any kind of administrative stumble be enough for action? Jay Ambrose, Twin Cities, "Jay Ambrose: Should Obama have been impeached for abuses of power?," 22 Dec. 2019 Calkins also pointed out that one brand’s stumble can be another’s opportunity. NBC News, "Hallmark's same-sex marriage gaffe shows how social media is raising the stakes for marketers," 16 Dec. 2019 Every slip, skid and stumble in Blueface’s phrasing is completely intentional, allowing him to take illicit sneak-peeks into the near future. Chris Richards, Washington Post, "The year’s best rappers sounded ahead of their time. Literally.," 13 Dec. 2019 Hong Kong and Singapore, meanwhile, have positioned themselves as financial bridges between China and the world, making them highly sensitive both to China’s success and its stumbles. The Economist, "Asian tigersAfter half a century of success, the Asian tigers must reinvent themselves," 5 Dec. 2019 Creative confidence is your ability to bounce back, to course-correct when the inevitable stumble happens, and to continue without trepidation. Josh Linkner, Detroit Free Press, "Creative confidence is not what you think," 23 Nov. 2019 Just like an early-season loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers doesn't mean that team is better than the Pacers, an early-season stumble vs. the Rockets doesn't mean much either when considering the circumstances Friday at Toyota Center. J. Michael, Indianapolis Star, "Pacers lose Malcolm Brogdon early to injury, push Rockets to brink in defeat," 15 Nov. 2019 The commercial-airplane unit had other stumbles under McAllister. Los Angeles Times, "Boeing’s jetliner division chief steps down amid 737 Max crisis," 22 Oct. 2019

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

14 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Stumble.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 20 January 2020.

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More Definitions for stumble


How to pronounce stumble (audio)

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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More from Merriam-Webster on stumble

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for stumble

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with stumble

Spanish Central: Translation of stumble

Nglish: Translation of stumble for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of stumble for Arabic Speakers

Comments on stumble

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


not to be intimidated or subdued

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