Share this entry
fumble Syllabification: fum·ble
Pronunciation: /ˈfəmbəl/

Definition of fumble in English:


[no object]
1Use the hands clumsily while doing or handling something: she fumbled with the lock
More example sentences
  • He reached his door and pulled out his key and fumbled with the lock.
  • ‘I should have put more planning into my plan’ said Mauritania as Jess tried fumbled with keys in the infinite number of locks on the door.
  • Sharai grinned upon seeing me run out the door before, absentminded as I am; I ran back and fumbled with my keys to lock the door.
grope, fish, search blindly, scrabble around
1.1 (fumble around/about) Move clumsily in various directions using the hands to find one’s way: Greg fumbled around in the closet and found his black jacket
More example sentences
  • Clumsily fumbling around in his personal possessions with fingers which had fallen half-asleep, the emissary produced a neatly rolled-up paper and handed it over to the scaly hand before him.
  • Clumsily, he fumbled around for tissues, but couldn't find any.
  • She clumsily opened her book and fumbled around for her pen.
stumble, blunder, flounder, lumber, stagger, totter, lurch;
(fumble about/around) feel one's way, grope one's way
1.2 [with object] Use the hands clumsily to move (something) as specified: she fumbled a cigarette from her bag
More example sentences
  • The street light gag, fumbling the cigarettes?
  • After returning from the airport, having said goodbye, I sat on the verandah and looked out at the night, fumbling a cigarette, its fire the only bright spot.
  • ‘Whatever,’ he mumbled, fumbling his pockets for his keys.
1.3 [with object] Football Drop or lose control of (the ball), sometimes causing a turnover: he seldom fumbled a ball
More example sentences
  • Both sides displayed a lot of nerves in the opening half during which there was a lot of mishandling, balls dropped or fumbled and scoring opportunities squandered.
  • Granted a lot of ball was fumbled and dropped but at least the ball was at the right end of the pitch.
  • Woewodin has attracted his critics for sometimes losing his feet and fumbling the ball out in the open while being descended upon.
1.4 [with object] (In other ball games) fail to catch or field (the ball, a pass, a shot, etc.) cleanly.
Example sentences
  • The Crigglestone fullback fumbled the ball allowing Neil Kennedy and Ian Barnes to get their hands on the ball at the same time just before the ball went dead.
  • Cody was much less productive, fumbling the ball at crucial times and finding his way into coach Dave McGinnis' doghouse.
  • Instead, Curry fumbles the ball slightly, blowing the chance for a dunk.
miss, drop, mishandle, bobble
1.5Express oneself or deal with something clumsily or nervously: asked for explanations, Michael had fumbled for words
More example sentences
  • Mimi nervously tugged at her shirt, and fumbled for words.
  • I began fumbling for words to say in response, still struggling to get over the fact that Tristan was, indeed, a Gypsy.
  • We, fumbling for words of love, remember the rockets the spinning wheels, the sudden diamonds and say with delight ‘Yes, like that, like that’


[usually in singular] Back to top  
1An act of using the hands clumsily while doing or handling something: just one fumble during a tire change could separate the winners from the losers
More example sentences
  • Yeah, the instructions make it so simple that even a child can go through it confidently, without a falter nor a fumble.
1.1 Football An act of dropping or losing control of the ball, sometimes causing a turnover: his fumble was recovered on the 6-yard line
More example sentences
  • While the offense struggled to hold onto the ball with five fumbles, two lost, in the first half the defense dominated the Indians.
  • Neither team did a good job taking care of the ball on offense as Redbank Valley had three fumbles, lost one and two Jason Smith interceptions.
  • Banks' biggest downside is that he commits too many turnovers - he has 62 career fumbles, including 43 lost.
1.2(In other ball games) an act of failing to catch or field the ball cleanly.
Example sentences
  • He registered eight tackles, had two sacks, recovered a fumble and blocked a field goal - all despite being blocked most of the game by a tackle and tight end.
  • He registered two sacks, blocked a field goal and recovered a fumble.
  • Culpepper made two critical mistakes - a fumble on the goal line and, to a lesser extent, the game-ending interception.
1.3An act of managing or dealing with something clumsily: we are not talking about subtle errors of judgment, but major fumbles
More example sentences
  • I made a major fumble last night in modifying the journal files and creating a new one for the day's new entry.


Pronunciation: /ˈfəmb(ə)lər/
Example sentences
  • This comedy of manners evokes a matriarchal world where the men are often fumblers, their dignity taken from them in a biased culture, or thugs who try to take what they want by force.
  • Well, the translator of this 1672 edition disagrees with most other fumblers who have attempted to bring meaning to this series of hoaxes.
  • True, some of it is pretty bad, but even the fumblers among us don't deserve that adjective…
Pronunciation: /ˈfəmb(ə)liNGlē/
Example sentences
  • Halie fumblingly continued, ‘I mean, I mean, um, that's pretty?’
  • The dialogue is by turns glibly posturing, fumblingly poetic, cuttingly punchy, often covering up aches and voids beneath, and always right.
  • Alex fumblingly grabbed his TDL from his wallet and handed it over.


Late Middle English: from Low German fommeln or Dutch fommelen.

Words that rhyme with fumble

bumble, crumble, grumble, humble, jumble, mumble, rough-and-tumble, rumble, scumble, stumble, tumble, umbel
Definition of fumble in:
Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Related Words