Share this entry

Share this page

stumble

Line breaks: stum¦ble
Pronunciation: /ˈstʌmb(ə)l
 
/

Definition of stumble in English:

verb

[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.
Synonyms
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.
Synonyms
stagger, totter, teeter, dodder, lurch, lumber, blunder, reel, flounder, bumble, shamble, hobble, wobble, 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.
Synonyms
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.
Synonyms
informal dig up, put one's finger on

noun

Back to top  
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.

Origin

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

Derivatives

stumbler

1
noun
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.

stumbling

2
adjective
Example sentences
  • A couple of stumbling figures turned around awkwardly and staggered towards the car.
  • Might they they be able to take advantage of its recent bad luck or management incompetence and seize market share from the stumbling enterprise?
  • At the first big down hill, he balked a bit, but was willing to follow another horse, though there was a lot of stopping, stumbling and general awkwardness.

stumblingly

3
adverb
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?

Definition of stumble in:

Share this entry

Share this page

 

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

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

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources

Word of the day boscage
Pronunciation: ˈbäskij
noun
massed trees or shrubs