Definition of stumble in English:


Syllabification: stum·ble
Pronunciation: /ˈstəmbəl


[no object]
  • 1Trip or momentarily lose one’s balance; almost fall: her foot caught a shoe and she stumbled
    More example sentences
    • But when she began stumbling and losing her balance, she knew something was seriously wrong.
    • That way, your bud doesn't have to deal with stumbling or losing his or her balance when the train comes to a bumpy stop.
    • The body tripped and stumbled momentarily but carried on regardless.
    trip (over/up), lose one's balance, lose/miss one's footing, slip
  • 1.1 [with adverbial of direction] Trip repeatedly as one walks: his legs still weak, he stumbled after them
    More example sentences
    • Almost too tired to walk, but I stumbled into the living room and fell on the couch.
    • Here we see, five people stumbling their way across the street.
    • A short, elderly woman of unsurpassed hideosity came upon them - or rather, stumbled over them.
    stagger, totter, teeter, dodder, blunder, hobble, move clumsily
  • 1.2Make a mistake or repeated mistakes in speaking: she stumbled over the words
    More example sentences
    • He is just reading it now, and he stumbled over the opening story as well.
    • I stumbled over my mumbled responses, trying to form questions I knew needed asking.
    • He stumbled over his instructions, trying to keep his eyes stern and controlling.
    stammer, stutter, hesitate, falter, speak haltingly
    informal fluff/flub one's lines
  • 1.3 (stumble across/on/upon) Find or encounter by chance: they stumbled across a farmer selling 25 acres
    More example sentences
    • The subjects for his entry for the Schweppes award were stumbled upon in an entirely chance encounter.
    • I never thought something was amiss until today when I came across this forum and a chance stumbling on to some related websites.
    • ‘The chances of us stumbling on one of the top guys are zero,’ he said.
    come across/upon, chance on, happen on, bump into, light on; discover, find, unearth, uncover
    informal dig up


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  • 1An act of stumbling.
    More example sentences
    • They depict a kind of fall from quotidian grace - evoking a realm where spills, stumbles and bumps thwart our schedules, routines and Palm Pilot agendas.
    • But his occasional stumbles should not erase his efforts to uphold the bygone standards of Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite.
    • Early stumbles or successes may turn out to be a mere blip in the long run.
  • 1.1A stumbling walk: he parodied my groping stumble across the stage
    More example sentences
    • But what's a little stumble when you can walk through a lush cloud forest, gawk at howler monkeys and wade in a lake on the floor of a volcanic crater?
    • Angela quickly recovered from her stumble, and began to limp while walking ahead of him, hoping he wouldn't notice.
    • He grinned down at her and walked by her giving her a shove making her stumble.



Pronunciation: /-b(ə)lər/
More example sentences
  • If Roma are the biggest sliders after the first quarter of the competition, Iberia has provided the rest of the major stumblers.
  • There is also the row with consultants over their future role and contracts (medical indemnity insurance is the current stumbler).
  • In addition, there is the added stumbler that allowing below-invoice selling will require primary legislation.


Pronunciation: /-b(ə)liNGlē/
More example sentences
  • They are also getting stumblingly obvious about it.
  • She muttered nervously, stumblingly gaining her footing.
  • Was France trapped in a cycle of monarchy, republic, and empire, or did it advance stumblingly towards stability, finally achieved by the Third Republic?


Middle English (as a verb): from Old Norse, from the Germanic base of stammer.

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elaborate ornamentation of a vocal melody