stumble

1 of 2

verb

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

intransitive verb

1
a
: 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
3
a
: to walk unsteadily or clumsily
b
: to speak or act in a hesitant or faltering manner
4
a
: to come unexpectedly or by chance
stumble onto the truth
b
: to fall or move carelessly

transitive verb

1
: to cause to stumble : trip
2
stumbler noun
stumblingly adverb

stumble

2 of 2

noun

: an act or instance of stumbling

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
About 54 years ago, a boy scout troop leader in Sauvie Island, Oregon stumbled upon a shallow grave. Juliana Kim, NPR, 25 Feb. 2024 Pico also stumbled to stoppage losses in three of his first seven bouts. Brian Mazique, Forbes, 24 Feb. 2024 But the police in Ottawa stumbled on it when an officer noticed a Range Rover being backed into a shipping container on a rural property. Vjosa Isai, New York Times, 24 Feb. 2024 Read Next Metal detectorist stumbles on 4,000-year-old weapon while walking to his car. Aspen Pflughoeft, Miami Herald, 23 Feb. 2024 And the most recent athlete to stumble into this spotlight is Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields. Ben Morse, CNN, 22 Feb. 2024 In the real estate market, investment was down markedly after the war caused the property market to stumble toward the end of 2023. Paolo Confino, Fortune, 20 Feb. 2024 The Rutz is like any great pub in Belfast, or anywhere in Ireland for that matter: Kinda dingy, people stumbling out of the bathrooms, wiping powder off their faces, traditional Irish music playing loud on the speakers. Jon Blistein, Rolling Stone, 20 Feb. 2024 But the Commodores have stumbled in SEC play, and right now are flirting with missing the postseason. USA TODAY, 16 Feb. 2024
Noun
Ross would very likely still be on the job if not for a 12-19 stumble to the finish line last season, which played a big role in the decision to swipe Counsell from the rival Milwaukee Brewers. Phil Rogers, Forbes, 13 Feb. 2024 And research in the journal Gait & Posture suggests all this could reduce balance and increase the risk of stumbles or falls. Markham Heid, San Diego Union-Tribune, 30 Jan. 2024 Josie and Jim's date in the moonlight is an awkward but intense pas de deux of sweet romantic moments and clumsy emotional stumbles. Jim Higgins, Journal Sentinel, 22 Jan. 2024 Nikki Haley's 2024 campaign has growing popularity -- and several recent 'stumbles,' experts say Both Haley and DeSantis vowed to carry on after losing to Trump in the Iowa caucuses. Abby Cruz, ABC News, 16 Jan. 2024 Live Coverage Feed Updated 6 hours ago No Fear: Investors Double Down on Stocks, Bonds By Gunjan Banerji , Lead Writer Don’t be fooled by the stock market’s stumble to start 2024. WSJ, 9 Jan. 2024 With the rise of Barbie, Mario and Oppenheimer came the remarkable stumble of the superhero tentpole, long the film industry’s most bankable big-budget genre. J. Clara Chan, Los Angeles Times, 21 Dec. 2023 The energy transition darling’s brief stumble Copper prices have tumbled in 2023 amid weaker than forecast demand for the critical metal owing to China’s ailing economy and slowing global economic growth. Bywill Daniel, Fortune, 28 Aug. 2023 But after all those early stumbles, the Gaels found their footing. Jon Wilner, San Diego Union-Tribune, 31 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'stumble.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Verb

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

First Known Use

Verb

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

Noun

1547, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near stumble

Cite this Entry

“Stumble.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/stumble. Accessed 2 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition

stumble

verb
stum·​ble
ˈstəm-bəl
stumbled; stumbling
-b(ə-)liŋ
1
: to trip in walking or running
2
a
: to walk unsteadily
b
: to speak or act in a hesitant or clumsy manner
3
: to come or happen unexpectedly or by chance
stumbled onto the ruins of an old fort
stumble noun
stumbler
-b(ə-)lər
noun
stumblingly
-b(ə-)liŋ-lē
adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on stumble

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