Origin of tumbler

1300–50; Middle English: acrobat; see tumble, -er1. Compare Low German tümeler drinking-cup, kind of pigeon
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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British Dictionary definitions for tumbler



  1. a flat-bottomed drinking glass with no handle or stem. Originally, a tumbler had a round or pointed base and so could not stand upright
  2. Also called: tumblerfulthe contents or quantity such a glass holds
a person, esp a professional entertainer, who performs somersaults and other acrobatic feats
another name for tumble dryer
Also called: tumbling box a pivoted box or drum rotated so that the contents (usually inferior gemstones) tumble about and become smooth and polished
the part of a lock that retains or releases the bolt and is moved by the action of a key
a lever in a gunlock that receives the action of the mainspring when the trigger is pressed and thus forces the hammer forwards
  1. a part that moves a gear in a train of gears into and out of engagement
  2. a single cog or cam that transmits motion to the part with which it engages
a toy, often a doll, that is so weighted that it rocks when touched
(often capital) a breed of domestic pigeon kept for exhibition or flying. The performing varieties execute backward somersaults in flight
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 tumbler

mid-14c., "acrobat," agent noun from tumble (v.). A fem. form was tumbester (late 14c.). Meaning "drinking glass" is recorded from 1660s, originally a glass with a rounded or pointed bottom which would cause it to "tumble," and thus it could not be set down until it was empty.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper