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 The campaign has stumbled, with Britain and the European Union recently rebuffing pleas from top aides to U.S. President Donald Trump, and deciding that Huawei could play a role in their 5G networks. Todd Shields,, "Huawei and ZTE Equipment Use Must Be Reported Under FCC Order," 10 May 2020 Another was stumbling across a king coconut vendor on the beach, after a couple of dives. Scott Bay, Travel + Leisure, "Filmmaker Jack Reynor Takes Us Underwater During a Conservation Trip in Seychelles," 15 Apr. 2020 Asselin’s research assistant stumbled upon the problems with patients’ breathing tubes in July 2018, while studying the effects of a new state protocol for cardiac arrest patients. Lynn Arditi, ProPublica, "EMS Crews Brought Patients to the Hospital With Misplaced Breathing Tubes. None of Them Survived.," 3 Dec. 2019 In 2010, the entertainment and tech enthusiast stumbled into a new hobby after being inspired by a neighbor’s light display. Patrick Connolly,, "The Lights on Jeater Bend: Teamwork makes this Celebration holiday dream work," 19 Nov. 2019 Palm Beach Gardens stumbled against Palm Beach Central in losing a chance at the District 10-8A district title on the road in the rain. Gary Curreri,, "PB Central and Cardinal Newman on the rise: Palm Beach County high school football top 10," 30 Oct. 2019 Then her husband stumbled upon CBD, a natural anti-inflammatory derived from the cannabis plant that could, perhaps, offer some hope. Lisa Drayer, CNN, "Should CBD become a part of your wellness routine in these troubling times?," 20 Apr. 2020 But a team member stumbled across a cache of bear-shaped squeeze bottles meant for honey. Ac Shilton, Outside Online, "This Vermont Distillery Is Now Making Hand Sanitizer," 17 Apr. 2020 The man stumbled while trying to get out of the vehicle for field sobriety tests. Bruce Geiselman, cleveland, "OVI suspect also charged in Fairview Park crash: North Olmsted Police Blotter," 4 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But a series of stumbles early this year left him an also-ran in the first three contests in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada. Jennifer Epstein,, "Biden Opens an All-But-Insurmountable Lead Over Sanders," 10 May 2020 Sunday’s stumble was the latest in a series of setbacks for the department, which has been overwhelmed by an unprecedented number of new jobless claims during the coronavirus outbreak. Mike Rogoway | The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, "Oregon says it has fixed weekend stumble that told some laid-off workers to restart jobless claims," 13 Apr. 2020 The latest stumble was a 24-3 setback against the division rival New York Giants and their rookie QB, Daniel Jones. San Diego Union-Tribune, "NFL ICYMI: Bills, Bears latest to see QB problem get worse," 30 Sep. 2019 Meanwhile, companies spend less on research and development as a share of sales than human-focused drug companies so clinical trial stumbles aren’t as costly. Charley Grant, WSJ, "Animal-Health Stocks Will Continue to Shine," 24 Sep. 2018 Well, the Cavs have learned from those early-season stumbles. Chris Fedor, cleveland, "Cleveland Cavaliers match last season’s win total with 132-129 overtime victory against San Antonio Spurs," 8 Mar. 2020 And in San Antonio, technical stumbles caused delays at some polling sites and reporting results in key races Wednesday. Steve Peoples, Fortune, "Biden wins Texas primary in resounding Super Tuesday finish," 4 Mar. 2020 But stepping in so soon after HKEX’s stumble would require strong nerves. The Economist, "Hong Kong’s pursuit of the London Stock Exchange ends in tears," 10 Oct. 2019 The report does capture the first stumble in the economy’s historic free fall. Paul Davidson, USA TODAY, "As coronavirus spread, economy lost 701,000 jobs in March, breaking 10-year string of gains," 3 Apr. 2020

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

19 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Stumble.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 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

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