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[ruhm-buh l] /ˈrʌm bəl/
verb (used without object), rumbled, rumbling.
to make a deep, heavy, somewhat muffled, continuous sound, as thunder.
to move or travel with such a sound:
The train rumbled on.
Slang. to have or take part in a street fight between or among teenage gangs:
Rival gangs rumbled on Saturday afternoon.
verb (used with object), rumbled, rumbling.
to give forth or utter with a rumbling sound:
to rumble a command.
to cause to make or move with a rumbling sound:
to rumble a wagon over the ground.
to subject to the action of a rumble or tumbling box, as for the purpose of polishing.
a deep, heavy, somewhat muffled, continuous sound:
the rumble of tanks across a bridge.
a rear part of a carriage containing seating accommodations, as for servants, or space for baggage.
a tumbling box.
Slang. a street fight between rival teenage gangs.
Origin of rumble
1325-75; 1940-45 for def 3; (v.) Middle English romblen, rumblen; compare Dutch rommelen, probably of imitative orig.; (noun) Middle English, derivative of the v.
Related forms
rumbler, noun
rumblingly, adverb
1. roar, thunder, roll, boom. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for rumble
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The rumble of the distant thunder deepened to a heavy rolling which dominated the 250 dull roar of the breakers.

    Into the Primitive Robert Ames Bennet
  • "It is thunder," said Ogibo, as the rumble and moan of the distant storm came to him.

    Bones Edgar Wallace
  • At a point along the gallery will be heard the rumble of a hidden river.

    Somerset G.W. Wade and J.H. Wade
  • On a lawn or the road, I can feel only running, stamping, and the rumble of wheels.

    The World I Live In Helen Keller
  • Far ahead I could see the black storm-clouds; and by and bye began to hear the rumble of thunder.

British Dictionary definitions for rumble


to make or cause to make a deep resonant sound: thunder rumbled in the sky
to move with such a sound: the train rumbled along
(transitive) to utter with a rumbling sound: he rumbled an order
(transitive) to tumble (metal components, gemstones, etc) in a barrel of smooth stone in order to polish them
(transitive) (Brit, informal) to find out about (someone or something); discover (something): the police rumbled their plans
(intransitive) (US, slang) to be involved in a gang fight
a deep resonant sound
a widespread murmur of discontent
another name for tumbler (sense 4)
(US & Canadian, NZ, slang) a gang fight
Derived Forms
rumbler, noun
rumbling, adjective
rumblingly, adverb
Word Origin
C14: perhaps from Middle Dutch rummelen; related to German rummeln, rumpeln
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 rumble

late 14c., "make a deep, heavy, continuous sound," also "move with a rolling, thundering sound," also "create disorder and confusion," probably related to Middle Dutch rommelen "to rumble," Middle High German rummeln, Old Norse rymja "to shout, roar," all of imitative origin. Related: Rumbled; rumbling.


late 14c., from rumble (v.). Slang noun meaning "gang fight" is from 1946. Meaning "backmost part of a carriage" is from 1808 (earlier rumbler, 1801), probably from the effect of sitting over the wheels; hence rumble seat (1828).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for rumble



  1. Information or notification given to the police: The cops had gotten a rumble that gangsters were holed up (1911+ Underworld)
  2. A police search or raid; roust: If there's a rumble, we do the time (1940s+ Police)
  3. A fight between street gangs: Teenagers Injured in Brooklyn Rumble (1940s+ Street gang)


To steal; loot: ending a run by rumbling everything from airline glasses to grub (1970s+ Airline)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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