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 At the height of golden hour, everyone wandered up The Hundred Steps staircase only to stumble upon the live set of Netflix’s new television series aptly themed around Marie Antionette. Eliseé Browchuk, Vogue, 6 Oct. 2021 All this to say, don’t travel to Captiva expecting to stumble upon a bustling local scene. Will Mcgough, Forbes, 28 Sep. 2021 And at the very least, kids today don’t need to stumble upon a gay brunch in Montrose to witness two women in love. Aubrey Calaway, Chron, 28 Sep. 2021 Grasping at reeds of grace and selfishness, the Hildebrandts demonstrate in the most poignant way how mortals stumble through life freighted with ideals that simultaneously mock and inspire them. Washington Post, 5 Oct. 2021 But the Orioles can still close it in a significant manner and, unless any of these teams stumble, not be able to crack into the upper levels of the division. Jon Meoli,, 5 Oct. 2021 Win out and look impressive doing it and hope the teams ahead of you stumble along the way. Matt Murschel,, 3 Oct. 2021 The Rams play the Cardinals Sunday, so there goes one unbeaten team, and the others may stumble soon as well. Tim Cowlishaw, Dallas News, 1 Oct. 2021 But whether the Buckeyes run the table, or stumble another time or two, a crossover season isn’t about what happens. Doug Lesmerises, cleveland, 26 Sep. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Around 2:34, two callers reported seeing a man with a cane stumble and collapse on East Burnside Street, evidently toppled by the heat. James Ross Gardner, The New Yorker, 11 Oct. 2021 The Colts play in the AFC South, which should give them the opportunity to survive a possible stumble out of the gates. Scott Horner, The Indianapolis Star, 8 Sep. 2021 On one hand, the Longhorns and new coach Steve Sarkisian can ill-afford a stumble against a Sun Belt opponent, albeit a very good one. C.j. Doon,, 3 Sep. 2021 Regulators will have to decide whether to help China’s cinema chains by allowing more Hollywood imports, or whether, in this politically sensitive year, the U.S. should be kept at bay, even if that means a box office stumble. Patrick Frater, Variety, 25 Aug. 2021 Still unclear: whether the highly contagious strain of the virus will be a momentary stumble in an improving global economy—one that businesses and consumers are now better equipped to handle—or something more serious. Inti Pacheco, WSJ, 15 Aug. 2021 What happened at Arlington, when the Longhorns were outscored 20-4, wasn’t the only stumble. Chuck Carlton, Dallas News, 1 June 2021 Friday’s stumble threw a wet blanket on things heading into the weekend as selling picked up toward the close. Jj Kinahan, Forbes, 13 Sep. 2021 Kentucky's season openers have generally been sloppy during the Stoops era, but the opening sequence proved to be only a minor stumble Saturday. Jon Hale, The Courier-Journal, 5 Sep. 2021

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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Dictionary Entries Near stumble



stumble across/on/onto/upon

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Statistics for stumble

Last Updated

21 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Stumble.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Oct. 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 : trip
: 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

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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