[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 grumbling

Contemporary Examples of grumbling

Historical Examples of grumbling

  • With all his grumbling, he had not contemplated Jenkins being away more than a day or two.

    The Channings

    Mrs. Henry Wood

  • They went through the cloisters to the south gate, Ketch grumbling all the way.

    The Channings

    Mrs. Henry Wood

  • The artistes gradually began to arrive, grumbling more or less.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

  • If we have been grumbling in our hearts, it is to God we must confess: who else has to do with the matter?

    Salted With Fire

    George MacDonald

  • So tall Clemence dressed herself again, grumbling the while.


    Emile Zola

British Dictionary definitions for grumbling



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 grumbling



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