[gruhm-buh l]

verb (used without object), grum·bled, grum·bling.

to murmur or mutter in discontent; complain sullenly.
to utter low, indistinct sounds; growl.
to rumble: The thunder grumbled in the west.

verb (used with object), grum·bled, grum·bling.

to express or utter with murmuring or complaining.


Origin of grumble

1580–90; perhaps frequentative of Old English grymman to wail; compare Dutch grommelen, German grummeln, French grommeler (< Gmc)
Related formsgrum·bler, noungrum·bling·ly, adverbgrum·bly, adjectiveun·grum·bling, adjective

Synonym study

1. See complain. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for grumble

Contemporary Examples of grumble

Historical Examples of grumble

  • This did not suit our notions of a land cruise, and we began to grumble.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • Yet it's only the food and the cabins and the attendance they grumble about.

    It Happened in Egypt

    C. N. Williamson

  • The silence was profound, but shaken now and then by a grumble of distant thunder.

    The Fortune Hunter

    Louis Joseph Vance

  • She then began to grumble violently about her son, the father of the dead boy.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

  • My father may grumble over his beer jugs, but he's a Churchman and a Tantivy for all that.

    Micah Clarke

    Arthur Conan Doyle

British Dictionary definitions for grumble



to utter (complaints) in a nagging or discontented way
(intr) to make low dull rumbling sounds


a complaint; grouse
a low rumbling sound
Derived Formsgrumbler, noungrumblingly, adverbgrumbly, adjective

Word Origin for grumble

C16: from Middle Low German grommelen, of Germanic origin; see grim
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 grumble

1580s, from Middle French grommeler "mutter between the teeth" or directly from Middle Dutch grommelen "murmur, mutter, grunt," from grommen "to rumble, growl." Imitative, or perhaps akin to grim. Related: Grumbled; grumbling.


1620s, from grumble (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper