[tuhm-buh l]
See more synonyms for tumble on Thesaurus.com
verb (used without object), tum·bled, tum·bling.
  1. to fall helplessly down, end over end, as by losing one's footing, support, or equilibrium; plunge headlong: to tumble down the stairs.
  2. to roll end over end, as in falling: The stones tumbled down the hill.
  3. to fall or decline rapidly; drop: Prices on the stock market tumbled today.
  4. to perform gymnastic feats of skill and agility, as leaps or somersaults.
  5. to fall suddenly from a position of power or authority; suffer overthrow: As one dictator tumbles, another is rising to take his place.
  6. to fall in ruins, as from age or decay; collapse; topple: The walls of the old mansion tumbled down upon the intruders.
  7. to roll about by turning one way and another; pitch about; toss.
  8. to stumble or fall (usually followed by over): to tumble over a sled.
  9. to go, come, get, etc., in a hasty and confused way: The people tumbled out of the theater. He tumbled hurriedly into his clothes.
  10. Informal. to understand or become aware of some fact or circumstance (often followed by to): He finally tumbled to what they were doing.
  11. Rocketry. (of a missile) to rotate without control end over end.
verb (used with object), tum·bled, tum·bling.
  1. to cause to fall or roll end over end; throw over or down.
  2. to throw or toss about; cause disarray, as in handling or searching.
  3. to put in a disordered or rumpled condition.
  4. to throw, cast, put, send, etc., in a precipitate, hasty, or rough manner.
  5. to cause to fall from a position of authority or power; overthrow; topple: They tumbled him from his throne.
  6. to cause to fall or collapse in ruins: The wreckers tumbled the walls of the building.
  7. to subject to the action of a tumbling box.
  1. an act of tumbling or falling.
  2. a gymnastic or acrobatic feat.
  3. an accidental fall; spill.
  4. a drop in value, as of stocks.
  5. a fall from a position of power or authority: The great director took a tumble when he was replaced by a newcomer.
  6. a response indicating interest, affection, etc.: She wouldn't give me a tumble.
  7. tumbled condition; disorder or confusion.
  8. a confused heap: a tumble of papers, ashes, pens, and keys on the desk.
  9. Chiefly New England. a haycock.
  1. 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. 2018

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


  1. to fall or cause to fall, esp awkwardly, precipitately, or violently
  2. (intr usually foll by about) to roll or twist, esp in playingthe kittens tumbled about on the floor
  3. (intr) to perform leaps, somersaults, etc
  4. to go or move in a heedless or hasty way
  5. (tr) to polish (gemstones) in a tumbler
  6. (tr) to disturb, rumple, or toss aroundto tumble the bedclothes
  1. the act or an instance of tumbling
  2. a fall or toss
  3. an acrobatic feat, esp a somersault
  4. a decrease in value, number, etcstock markets have taken a tumble
  5. a state of confusion
  6. 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.