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fumble

[fuhm-buh l]
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verb (used without object), fum·bled, fum·bling.
  1. to feel or grope about clumsily: She fumbled in her purse for the keys.
  2. Sports. to fumble the ball.
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verb (used with object), fum·bled, fum·bling.
  1. to make, handle, etc., clumsily or inefficiently: to fumble an attempt; He fumbled his way through the crowded room.
  2. Sports. to fail to hold or maintain hold on (a ball) after having touched it or carried it.
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noun
  1. the act of fumbling: We completed the difficult experiment without a fumble.
  2. Sports. an act or instance of fumbling the ball.
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Origin of fumble

1500–10; akin to Norwegian, Swedish fumla, Middle Low German fummeln to grope, fumble
Related formsfum·bler, nounfum·bling·ly, adverbfum·bling·ness, nounout·fum·ble, verb (used with object), out·fum·bled, out·fum·bling.un·fum·bled, adjectiveun·fum·bling, adjective

Synonyms

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3. bungle, botch, mishandle, spoil, muff.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for fumbling

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • We are, on the contrary, fumbling and wallowing about where the Greek pondered and philosophized.

    'Tis Sixty Years Since

    Charles Francis Adams

  • He had taken his hand away from his breast, and was fumbling with it on the grass behind him.

    In the Valley

    Harold Frederic

  • "About fifty dollars, I think," said the travelling man, fumbling for his wallet.

    The Fortune Hunter

    Louis Joseph Vance

  • "I got it 'ere," responded the sailor hastily, fumbling with his tie.

    The Black Bag

    Louis Joseph Vance

  • In another instant, fumbling in the darkness, he found the bolts and drove them home.

    The Black Bag

    Louis Joseph Vance


British Dictionary definitions for fumbling

fumble

verb
  1. (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
  2. (intr; foll by at or with) to finger or play with, esp in an absent-minded way
  3. to say or do hesitantly or awkwardlyhe fumbled the introduction badly
  4. to fail to catch or grasp (a ball, etc) cleanly
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noun
  1. the act of fumbling
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Derived Formsfumbler, nounfumblingly, adverbfumblingness, noun

Word Origin

C16: probably of Scandinavian origin; related to Swedish fumla
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 fumbling

fumble

v.

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.

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fumble

n.

1640s, from fumble (v.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper