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

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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Film lovers in the D.C. area know it’s not terribly hard to stumble onto a finely curated festival. Chris Richards, Washington Post, 10 June 2022 So expect more SPACs to stumble out of the gate—but hold the shrimp ceviche. Jessica Mathews, Fortune, 2 June 2022 The annual spelling bee -- which features elementary and middle school students spelling words that would cause most adults to stumble -- has had a tumultuous few years. Leah Asmelash, CNN, 2 June 2022 Perhaps even worse than getting the AI to simply stumble, the adversarial attack can sometimes be used to get AI to perform as the wrongdoer wishes the AI to perform. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 16 May 2022 Kenton Krupp, a Walmart warehouse worker in Hermiston, began to stumble and have difficulty breathing at the end of a 10-hour shift on June 24, according to Oregon OSHA documents. Jamie Goldberg, oregonlive, 6 May 2022 But that excitement quickly faded, the Lakers falling behind by as many as 16 before a furious, third-quarter comeback set the stage for the team to stumble in the fourth. Dan Woike, Los Angeles Times, 25 Feb. 2022 Some QAnon followers had begun to suspect as early as mid-2018 that one or more of the commentators who first claimed to stumble onto the Q messages had actually written them. New York Times, 19 Feb. 2022 Margot Robbie has some tiny, plastic shoes to fill, but with director Greta Gerwig paving her dream-house driveway, Barbie seems less likely to stumble in those stilettos. Lauren Puckett-pope, ELLE, 10 Feb. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun That wild card worries experts far more than any immunological stumble. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 23 May 2022 Their fifth consecutive loss had been a real gut punch, a 16-13 stumble against the Baltimore Ravens at Soldier Field in which some late-game, fourth-down Andy Dalton fireworks were eclipsed by a maddening defensive meltdown. Dan Wiederer,, 15 Dec. 2021 The index, a benchmark for many funds, fell 0.6% after easing off a deeper stumble. Damian J. Troise And Alex Veiga, USA TODAY, 19 May 2022 The next three weeks should reveal the answers after the Bruins slogged their way to a 34-16 victory over Arizona on Saturday night at Arizona Stadium that revealed little besides the team’s ability to avoid a mortifying stumble. Los Angeles Times, 11 Oct. 2021 The end to Alabama’s basketball season was less a thud and more of a predictable stumble over a problem that had been in the team’s way for months. Mike Rodak |, al, 18 Mar. 2022 Winning it all is often preceded by a stumble in the conference tournament. Ben Bolch, Los Angeles Times, 9 Mar. 2022 The celebrants, many of whom had recently launched their own streaming operations, might have done better to wonder what a stumble by the market leader portends for their own services, most of them lackluster by comparison. Frank Rose, WSJ, 21 Apr. 2022 Vladimir Potanin is still negotiating business deals as his fellow oligarchs stumble, raising questions about whether this metals magnate is too big to sanction. John Hyatt, Forbes, 13 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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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Dictionary Entries Near stumble



stumble across/on/onto/upon

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Statistics for stumble

Last Updated

23 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Stumble.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for stumble


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

More from Merriam-Webster on stumble

Nglish: Translation of stumble for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of stumble for Arabic Speakers


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