Definition of stumble in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈstʌmb(ə)l/


[no object]
1Trip or momentarily lose one’s balance; almost fall: her foot caught in the rug 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, trip over, trip up, lose one's balance, lose/miss one's footing, founder, slip, pitch
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, lurch, lumber, blunder, reel, flounder, bumble, shamble, hobble, wobble, move clumsily;
Scottish & Northern Irish  sprauchle
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, fumble for words;
flounder, blunder, muddle
informal fluff one's lines
1.3 (stumble across/on/upon) Find or encounter by chance: a policeman had stumbled across a gang of youths
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, come upon, chance on, happen on, light on, hit on, come up with;
discover, encounter, find, unearth, uncover, locate, bring to light
informal dig up, put one's finger on


1An act of stumbling: he broke a bone in his foot in a stumble down an Alpine pass
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: /ˈstʌmb(ə)lə/
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: /ˈstʌmb(ə)lɪŋli/
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.

Words that rhyme with stumble

bumble, crumble, fumble, grumble, humble, jumble, mumble, rough-and-tumble, rumble, scumble, tumble, umbel

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: stum¦ble

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