[ stuhm-buhl ]
See synonyms for: stumblestumbledstumblingstumbler on

verb (used without object),stum·bled, stum·bling.
  1. to strike the foot against something, as in walking or running, so as to stagger or fall; trip.

  2. to walk or go unsteadily: to stumble down a dark passage.

  1. to make a slip, mistake, or blunder, especially a sinful one: to stumble over a question; to stumble and fall from grace.

  2. to proceed in a hesitating or blundering manner, as in action or speech (often followed by along).

  3. to discover or meet with accidentally or unexpectedly (usually followed by on, upon, or across): They stumbled on a little village.

  4. to falter or hesitate, as at an obstacle to progress or belief.

verb (used with object),stum·bled, stum·bling.
  1. to cause to stumble; trip.

  2. to give pause to; puzzle or perplex.

  1. the act of stumbling.

  2. a moral lapse or error.

  1. a slip or blunder.

Origin of stumble

1275–1325; Middle English stumblen; cognate with Norwegian stumla to grope and stumble in the dark; akin to stammer

Other words from stumble

  • stumbler, noun
  • stum·bling·ly, adverb
  • un·stum·bling, adjective

Words Nearby stumble Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use stumble in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for stumble


/ (ˈstʌmbəl) /

  1. to trip or fall while walking or running

  2. to walk in an awkward, unsteady, or unsure way

  1. to make mistakes or hesitate in speech or actions

  2. (foll by across or upon) to come (across) by accident

  3. to commit a grave mistake or sin

  1. a false step, trip, or blunder

  2. the act of stumbling

Origin of stumble

C14: related to Norwegian stumla, Danish dialect stumle; see stammer

Derived forms of stumble

  • stumbler, noun
  • stumbling, adjective
  • stumblingly, adverb

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