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

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Police saw the woman stumble out of her car after the crash. Bob Sandrick, cleveland, "Woman extorted on social media; drunk woman crashes Jetta into Jeep: Berea police blotter," 22 Jan. 2021 As Taylor walked toward Fletcher, the officer fired his Taser, causing Taylor to stumble forward, still holding the bat. Michael Williams,, "San Leandro officer pleads not guilty in fatal shooting of Steven Taylor," 8 Dec. 2020 One of Brees' tailbacks blocked the defender, but not before the defender grabbed Brees' right ankle, which prompted him to stumble. Amie Just | Staff Writer,, "Drew Brees has missed 7 starts due to injury in 25 years. A review of the Saints QB's serious injuries," 17 Nov. 2020 The Gators, who Georgia needs to stumble, has five games remaining: Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Tennessee and LSU. Matt Murschel,, "Kirby Smart: Sky isn’t falling for Georgia despite loss to Gators," 8 Nov. 2020 The majority of his views don’t come from new clips, but from people who stumble on older footage that the site’s algorithm has recommended. Mark Bergen,, "The North Carolina Kid Who Cracked YouTube’s Secret Code," 22 Dec. 2020 It’s never out of the question that one of the division favorites heading into a season will stumble. David Moore, Dallas News, "NFC East turned upside down: Thought to be division’s marquee matchup, Cowboys-Eagles may be meaningless," 21 Dec. 2020 In this paradigm, innovative firms that use technology to offer better solutions to more users can enjoy remarkable growth, while firms that are unable to do so often stumble. Valla Vakili, Quartz at Work, "The next decade of growth will come from solving societal problems," 15 Dec. 2020 Even so, health experts do worry that patients might stumble into loopholes that leave them vulnerable to surprise bills. New York Times, "Answers to Your Questions About the New Covid Vaccines in the U.S.," 14 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Stocks are mostly higher in the early going on Wall Street, stabilizing after a stumble the day before. Tom Krisher, Star Tribune, "GM charges up new unit to sell electric delivery vans, gear," 12 Jan. 2021 The European Union early Saturday abruptly reversed an attempt to restrict vaccine exports from the bloc into Britain via Northern Ireland, the latest stumble in the continent’s faltering vaccine rollout., "The CDC issues order requiring masks for domestic travel," 30 Jan. 2021 His kicks hit, his punches make the opponent stumble, and just like that, against all neurological science, Miguel’s eyes open and he’s fully healed. Brian Moylan, Vulture, "Cobra Kai Season-Premiere Recap: All-Out Karate Riot," 1 Jan. 2021 G2′s freewheeling approach — and absence of a clear, commanding leader — lost them a winnable first game, a precarious stumble in a best-of-three format. Washington Post, "G2 were the kings of ‘Valorant’ in Europe. What happened?," 28 Dec. 2020 As 2020 draws to a close, HBO Max's 2020 stumble into the streaming-video fray has begun smoothing out, and the subscription service will soon seal its biggest North American gap: a spot on the Roku marketplace. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "HBO Max patches its Roku hole six months after launch," 16 Dec. 2020 Gordon kept his balance long enough for a seven-yard scoring stumble with 8:38 left in the second quarter to extend Trinity’s lead to 28-7. Dallas News, "‘Payback was on our minds’: Euless Trinity avenges last two losses against Haltom with dominant 56-10 win," 27 Nov. 2020 Their only stumble came during the season opener in a 102-90 loss to No. 1 Gonzaga, which remains undefeated thanks to its historic offense and luxuriously deep bench. Nick Moyle,, "Road matchup with No. 3 Kansas a measuring stick game for No. 8 Texas," 1 Jan. 2021 Despite the stumble, China’s domestic exchanges are well-positioned for the future. Henry M. Paulson Jr., WSJ, "China Wants to Be the World’s Banker," 9 Dec. 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

11 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Stumble.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for stumble



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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