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[buhm-buh l]
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verb (used without object), bum·bled, bum·bling.
  1. to bungle or blunder awkwardly; muddle: He somehow bumbled through two years of college.
  2. to stumble or stagger.
  3. to speak in a low, stuttering, halting manner; mumble.
verb (used with object), bum·bled, bum·bling.
  1. to do (something) clumsily; botch.
  1. an awkward blunder.

Origin of bumble1

1525–35; perhaps blend of bungle and stumble
Related formsbum·bler, noun


[buhm-buh l]
verb (used without object), bum·bled, bum·bling.
  1. to make a buzzing, humming sound, as a bee.

Origin of bumble2

1350–1400; Middle English bomblen, frequentative of bomben to boom, buzz; imitative
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for bumble

Historical Examples

  • In 1273 Mr. Bumble's name was spelt bon-bel, good and beautiful.

    The Romance of Names</p>

    Ernest Weekley

  • “The Bumble Bee rows Ray, but she likes her,” was the general verdict.

  • The Bumble says the value of school life consists in its ‘give and take’.

  • Bumble was not about, and I said casually that I supposed the old dog was dead.

    Wandering Ghosts

    F. Marion Crawford

  • Again Mr. Bumble coughed,louder this time than he had coughed yet.

British Dictionary definitions for bumble


  1. to speak or do in a clumsy, muddled, or inefficient wayhe bumbled his way through his speech
  2. (intr) to proceed unsteadily; stumble
  1. a blunder or botch
Derived Formsbumbler, nounbumbling, noun, adjective

Word Origin

C16: perhaps a blend of bungle + stumble


  1. (intr) to make a humming sound

Word Origin

C14 bomblen to buzz, boom, of imitative origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for bumble


"to flounder, blunder," 1530s, probably of imitative origin. Related: Bumbled; bumbler; bumbling.


"self-important petty official," 1856, from the name of the fussy, pompous, stupid beadle in Dickens' "Oliver Twist."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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