[tuhm-buh l]

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

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



    take a tumble to, Australian Slang. to come to understand.

Origin of tumble

1250–1300; Middle English tum(b)len to dance in acrobatic style (cognate with Dutch tuimelen, Low German tummeln), frequentative of Middle English tomben, Old English tumbian, (cognate with Old Norse tumba, akin to Old High German tūmōn to reel (perhaps < OLG); compare French tomber to fall < Gmc); see -le
Related formsun·tum·bled, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for tumble

Contemporary Examples of tumble

Historical Examples of tumble

  • We'll land that stake; an' p'raps the sharp division'll take a tumble.


    W. A. Fraser

  • "Of course he might have taken a tumble and sprained his ankle, or something like that," Bart said.

  • He does not tumble from the top to the bottom of the cellar stair.

  • Old women with children can afford to tumble downstairs, but not my kind of old women.

    Four Girls and a Compact

    Annie Hamilton Donnell

  • Suddenly he shouted to Sandoz, 'Will you be kind enough not to tumble to pieces?'

    His Masterpiece

    Emile Zola

British Dictionary definitions for tumble



to fall or cause to fall, esp awkwardly, precipitately, or violently
(intr usually foll by about) to roll or twist, esp in playingthe kittens tumbled about on the floor
(intr) to perform leaps, somersaults, etc
to go or move in a heedless or hasty way
(tr) to polish (gemstones) in a tumbler
(tr) to disturb, rumple, or toss aroundto tumble the bedclothes


the act or an instance of tumbling
a fall or toss
an acrobatic feat, esp a somersault
a decrease in value, number, etcstock markets have taken a tumble
a state of confusion
a confused heap or pilea tumble of clothes
See also tumble to

Word Origin for tumble

Old English tumbian, from Old French tomber; related to Old High German tūmōn to turn
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 tumble

c.1300, "to perform as an acrobat," also "to fall down," perhaps from a frequentative form of Old English tumbian "dance about," of unknown origin. Related to Middle Low German tummelen "to turn, dance," Dutch tuimelen "to tumble," Old High German tumon, German taumeln "to turn, reel." Related: Tumbled; tumbling. Tumble-down (1791) originally meant "habitually falling down" and was used first of horses; sense of "in a dilapidated condition" is recorded from 1818.


1716, from tumble (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with tumble


see rough and tumble.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.