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 American education is stumbling, and education reform is running on fumes. Chester E. Finn Jr., National Review, "The American K–12 Decline," 7 Nov. 2019 Season 2’s blooper reel brought even more silly scenes, including an accidental snort from Noah Schnapp, Winona Ryder stumbling over her words, and Millie accidentally getting hit in the head with papers. Eric Todisco,, "It's Stranger Things Day! Watch the Hilarious Blooper Reels from All 3 Seasons," 6 Nov. 2019 Murrietta Golding then stumbles and falls to the ground. Sarah Moon And Eric Levenson, CNN, "Video shows officer shoot an unarmed 16-year-old as he runs away. Police say it was justified," 24 Oct. 2019 Pro-Russian political forces in the EU are stumbling, and recently left the governments of Austria and Italy. The Economist, "A thaw in EU-Russia relations is starting," 12 Oct. 2019 Unless Auburn stumbles over its next three games -- Saturday at home against Mississippi State, next week at Florida and then Arkansas in Fayetteville -- there is no reason not to believe the last Saturday in October won’t be must-see TV. Charles Hollis, al, "Auburn hitting groove, should be going into LSU showdown unbeaten," 26 Sep. 2019 Dennis' Moment, the 4-5 favorite, stumbled out of the starting gate and trailed the field. Beth Harris, The Courier-Journal, "Storm the Court scores 45-1 upset in Breeders' Cup Juvenile," 2 Nov. 2019 Wentworth allegedly displayed six out of six clues suggesting alcohol intoxication during the horizontal gaze and nystagmus test, and stumbled, fell or was unable to walk appropriately during the walk and turn test. Jon Kelvey,, "Westminster man charged with assaulting police officer after traffic stop," 23 Oct. 2019 The Golden Knights, who are a favorite by many to win the league championship, stumbled and have lost two straight contests. Charles Rich, Glendale News-Press, "Weekly Football Previews: Prep vs. Milken; CV vs. Muir; St. Francis vs. Salesian; Glendale vs. Pasadena," 22 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But early stumbles have borne a midseason stride, one helped by the insertion of inside linebacker Alexander Johnson and nose tackle Mike Purcell into the starting lineup prior to the Week 5 win in Los Angeles. Kyle Newman, The Denver Post, "Broncos’ run defense is trending upwards, but faces critical challenge against Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook," 12 Nov. 2019 Republicans were quick to blame Bevin for his stumbles. Steve Peoples, Twin Cities, "Analysis: Trump’s GOP has no answer for suburban slide," 6 Nov. 2019 Weingarten relates these events, and the stumbles and joys of dozens of other people, with compassion and humor. Sam Knight, The New Yorker, "Briefly Noted," 5 Nov. 2019 After a Scottish 22-meter restart, Japan spread the ball left, where Tim Lafaele grubbered a kick through for Fukuoka to grab one-handed and stumble over to score. San Diego Union-Tribune, "A deserving Japan reaches first Rugby World Cup quarterfinal," 13 Oct. 2019 Catching the nonagenarian’s frequent stumbles and gaffes became something of a two-edged sword for Zimbabwe’s beleaguered media—lapped up by citizens desperate for signs of the end of his reign, but cause for government retaliation as well. Aryn Baker, Time, "Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwean Revolutionary Who Later Ruled With an Iron Fist, Dies at 95," 6 Sep. 2019 Management missteps and other stumbles have erased 70%, or $200bn, of GE’s market capitalisation since 2016. The Economist, "GE finds friends on Wall Street," 22 Aug. 2019 Despite such stumbles, ES&S — based in Omaha, Nebraska, and employing roughly 500 people — controls around 50% of the country’s election system market, the company says, meaning that some 70 million Americans vote using the company’s equipment. Jessica Huseman, ProPublica, "The Market for Voting Machines Is Broken. This Company Has Thrived in It.," 28 Oct. 2019 If the Bearcats stumble against Temple and Memphis during back-to-back weeks at the end of the season, the Knights want to be in position to move up. Matt Murschel,, "UCF plays its best game of season during rout of Temple," 25 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

2 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Stumble.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 12 December 2019.

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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

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a period of high artistic development

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