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[buhng-guh l] /ˈbʌŋ gəl/
verb (used with object), bungled, bungling.
to do clumsily and awkwardly; botch:
He bungled the job.
verb (used without object), bungled, bungling.
to perform or work clumsily or inadequately:
He is a fool who bungles consistently.
a bungling performance.
that which has been done clumsily or inadequately.
Origin of bungle
First recorded in 1520-30; of uncertain origin
Related forms
bungler, noun
bunglingly, adverb
unbungling, adjective
1. mismanage, muddle, spoil, ruin; foul up. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for bungle
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • In the first place she'll be sorry for you, because you will make such a bungle of it.

    One Day's Courtship Robert Barr
  • Sure, now, didn't he give you my message, or did he bungle it?

    Captain Blood Rafael Sabatini
  • He must understand his position, so as not to bungle the thing.

    The Pit Prop Syndicate Freeman Wills Crofts
  • "I made a false step there; but it was just like me to bungle," continued Gaston.

    Fairy Fingers Anna Cora Mowatt Ritchie
  • He never hesitated, nor did he hurry and make a bungle of it.

    The House of Pride Jack London
  • The Pomeranian was too scared, and bungle and Popocatepetl were too angry.

British Dictionary definitions for bungle


(transitive) to spoil (an operation) through clumsiness, incompetence, etc; botch
a clumsy or unsuccessful performance or piece of work; mistake; botch
Derived Forms
bungler, noun
bungling, adjective, noun
Word Origin
C16: perhaps of Scandinavian origin; compare dialect Swedish bangla to work without results
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
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Word Origin and History for bungle

1520s, origin obscure. OED suggests imitative; perhaps a mix of boggle and bumble, or more likely from a Scandinavian word akin to Swedish bangla "to work ineffectually," Old Swedish bunga "to strike" (cf. German Bengel "cudgel," also "rude fellow"). Related: Bungled; bungling.


1650s, from bungle (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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