verb (used with object), bun·gled, bun·gling.

to do clumsily and awkwardly; botch: He bungled the job.

verb (used without object), bun·gled, bun·gling.

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 formsbun·gler, nounbun·gling·ly, adverbun·bun·gling, adjective

Synonyms for bungle

1. mismanage, muddle, spoil, ruin; foul up.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for bungler

Historical Examples of bungler

  • He was no bungler to attempt other than the most gently delicate methods.


    W. A. Fraser

  • Be of good heart, therefore, for you shall not fall into the hands of a bungler.'

    Micah Clarke

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • The sloven becomes the bungler, and the bungler is on the high road to failure.

  • He did not want to run the risk of being shown up as a bungler.

    The Winning Clue

    James Hay, Jr.

  • Idler or bungler, he is willing to fork out his penny and pocket your shilling.

    Pearls of Thought

    Maturin M. Ballou

British Dictionary definitions for bungler



(tr) to spoil (an operation) through clumsiness, incompetence, etc; botch


a clumsy or unsuccessful performance or piece of work; mistake; botch
Derived Formsbungler, nounbungling, adjective, noun

Word Origin for bungle

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

Word Origin and History for bungler

1530s, agent noun from bungle (v.).



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