• synonyms


[muhm-buh l]
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verb (used without object), mum·bled, mum·bling.
  1. to speak in a low indistinct manner, almost to an unintelligible extent; mutter.
  2. to chew ineffectively, as from loss of teeth: to mumble on a crust.
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verb (used with object), mum·bled, mum·bling.
  1. to say or utter indistinctly, as with partly closed lips: He mumbled something about expenses.
  2. to chew, or try to eat, with difficulty, as from loss of teeth.
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  1. a low, indistinct utterance or sound.
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Origin of mumble

1275–1325; Middle English momelen, equivalent to mom(me) mum1 + -elen -le; compare Dutch mommelen, German mummeln
Related formsmum·bler, nounmum·bling·ly, adverbhalf-mum·bled, adjectiveun·mum·bled, adjectiveun·mum·bling, adjective


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1, 3. See murmur.


1. articulate.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for mumble

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • His boastful accents died away into a mumble: "Dunno what I should do."

    The Golden Age

    Kenneth Grahame

  • I understood his mumble to mean that "he didn't know any game."


    Joseph Conrad

  • He squeezed my arm till he extorted from me some sort of mumble.


    Joseph Conrad

  • Gone was the mumble, gone was every thought except the misery of the minute.


    Dorothy Whitehill

  • When he would cry out to her his frozen lips could mumble no words.

    Nan of Music Mountain

    Frank H. Spearman

British Dictionary definitions for mumble


  1. to utter indistinctly, as with the mouth partly closed; mutter
  2. rare to chew (food) ineffectually or with difficulty
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  1. an indistinct or low utterance or sound
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Derived Formsmumbler, nounmumbling, adjectivemumblingly, adverb

Word Origin

C14 momelen, from mum ²
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 mumble


early 14c., momelen, "to eat in a slow, ineffective manner" (perhaps "to talk with one's mouth full"), probably frequentative of interjection mum. The -b- is excrescent. Meaning "to speak indistinctly" is from mid-14c. Related: Mumbled; mumbling.

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1902, from mumble (v.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper