- to feel or grope about clumsily: She fumbled in her purse for the keys.
- Sports. to fumble the ball.
- to make, handle, etc., clumsily or inefficiently: to fumble an attempt; He fumbled his way through the crowded room.
- Sports. to fail to hold or maintain hold on (a ball) after having touched it or carried it.
- the act of fumbling: We completed the difficult experiment without a fumble.
- Sports. an act or instance of fumbling the ball.
Origin of fumble
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for fumble
Following the fumble, all hope for a comeback—and, by extension, for a competitive game—vanished.The Impossible Super Bowl Score: First 43-8 Football Game in a Century
February 3, 2014
Getting the ball back after the fumble and running 83 yards for the game-winning touchdown is a little better.It’s Time for Obama to Go on Offense on Health Care
November 19, 2013
But there were a whole lot of people crying “fumble” then, too.Anyone Who Counts Obama Out Hasn’t Reckoned on His Survival Skills
November 17, 2013
Fly, Ravens, Fly Baltimore capitalized on the James fumble, carving up the vaunted 49er defense with a mixture of run and pass.15 Best Moments of the 2013 Super Bowl (VIDEO)
February 4, 2013
Yet the Saudis backed the intervention in Libya—only to see the Americans fumble their leadership once again.Obama's Middle East Head Spin
Christopher Dickey, John Barry
April 22, 2011
The girl's face flushed, and she began to fumble the shawl nervously with her fingers.The Underdog
F. Hopkinson Smith
He began to fumble presently for his Bible,—he must have some help.
He had promised me faithfully not to fumble with his cravat, and evidently he had not once stirred.Ruggles of Red Gap
Harry Leon Wilson
No language except the chaos we fumble with could make it possible.In a Little Town
I heard him murmur something about the servants and fumble for the switch.The Misplaced Battleship
Harry Harrison (AKA Henry Maxwell Dempsey)
- (intr; often foll by for or with) to grope about clumsily or blindly, esp in searchinghe was fumbling in the dark for the money he had dropped
- (intr; foll by at or with) to finger or play with, esp in an absent-minded way
- to say or do hesitantly or awkwardlyhe fumbled the introduction badly
- to fail to catch or grasp (a ball, etc) cleanly
- the act of fumbling
Word Origin and History for fumble
mid-15c., "handle clumsily," possibly from Old Norse falma "to fumble, grope." Similar words in Scandinavian and North Sea Germanic suggest onomatopoeia from a sound felt to indicate clumsiness (cf. bumble, stumble, and obsolete English famble, fimble of roughly the same meaning). Related: Fumbled; fumbling.
1640s, from fumble (v.).