Open main menu



From Proto-Germanic *stam- (to trip up; to stammer, stutter), thereby related to German stumm (mute), Dutch stom (dumb). Doublet of stammer.


  • IPA(key): /ˈstʌmbəl/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ʌmbəl


stumble (plural stumbles)

  1. A fall, trip or substantial misstep.
  2. An error or blunder.
  3. A clumsy walk.
    • 2013 June 8, “The new masters and commanders”, in The Economist, volume 407, number 8839, page 52:
      From the ground, Colombo’s port does not look like much. Those entering it are greeted by wire fences, walls dating back to colonial times and security posts. For mariners leaving the port after lonely nights on the high seas, the delights of the B52 Night Club and Stallion Pub lie a stumble away.




stumble (third-person singular simple present stumbles, present participle stumbling, simple past and past participle stumbled)

  1. (intransitive) To trip or fall; to walk clumsily.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Sir Walter Scott
      He stumbled up the dark avenue.
    • 1913, Joseph C. Lincoln, chapter 1, in Mr. Pratt's Patients:
      I stumbled along through the young pines and huckleberry bushes. Pretty soon I struck into a sort of path that, I cal'lated, might lead to the road I was hunting for.
    He stumbled over a rock.
  2. (intransitive) To make a mistake or have trouble.
    I always stumble over verbs in Spanish.
  3. (transitive) To cause to stumble or trip.
  4. (transitive, figuratively) To mislead; to confound; to cause to err or to fall.
    • (Can we date this quote?) John Milton
      False and dazzling fires to stumble men.
    • (Can we date this quote?) John Locke
      One thing more stumbles me in the very foundation of this hypothesis.
  5. To strike or happen (upon a person or thing) without design; to fall or light by chance; with on, upon, or against.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Dryden
      Ovid stumbled, by some inadvertency, upon Livia in a bath.
    • (Can we date this quote?) C. Smart
      Forth as she waddled in the brake, / A grey goose stumbled on a snake.

Derived termsEdit


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit