Definition of bumble in English:



  • 1[no object, with adverbial of direction] Move or act in an awkward or confused manner:

    ‘they bumbled around the house’
    • ‘His IQ was plummeting at each attempt, so to keep him from reaching zero I slowly edged by as he bumbled around on the roadside readying for another go.’
    • ‘At first he appears unassuming and on occasion bumbling yet his disarming manner, like that of Louis Theroux, is one that seems to entice his interviewee into spilling the beans.’
    • ‘All through Coronation Street he bumbled around, not ever quite standing out.’
    • ‘We bumbled around each other like Laurel and Hardy in the gloom, fumbling for a torch we couldn't find.’
    • ‘Comments by Lam to the effect that life is a never-ending process of self-examination seem unintentionally at odds with the reality of characters who are bumbling along semi consciously.’
    • ‘Randall, with his silly-looking mullet and penchant for pyramid-scheme businesses, bumbles along with barely a clue.’
    • ‘It's a welcome change to see Hugh Grant play the role of a devious weasel instead of the awkward, bumbling, confused nice guy in his previous films.’
    • ‘He bumbled around working out what he needed, so green around the gills, that one had to laugh.’
    • ‘We bumbled around trying to figure out where to camp when a nice chap, although a bit of a wimp, invited us to join him at his campsite, which we happily did.’
    • ‘He got up to follow her as she bumbled around the kitchen.’
    • ‘The sport is used to moving at a leisurely pace, and bumbled along happily enough for 116 years before it got around to holding its first World Cup.’
    • ‘After midnight he bumbles along, but listened to at other times of the day his eccentricities merely irritate.’
    • ‘A.I. (artificial intelligence) warriors occasionally join the party, bumbling along beside you and setting charges to open doors and clear obstructions for you.’
    • ‘Lee's debut on the Xbox does not resemble a dragon, but prefers to plod along like a sloth, short on all the crucial fronts, lazily bumbling along everywhere else.’
    • ‘The Flames have stumbled and bumbled around the offensive zone all series, particularly when the incomparable Iginla hasn't been on the ice.’
    • ‘Nevertheless Owen, having hit a post in the previous game and again unnerved Argentina with his speed, was a disappointment while Heskey bumbled around.’
    • ‘Got back to the polling station, and the turnout was still bumbling along in its slow way, if much quieter than before.’
    • ‘Society will ‘spend’ lives on lots of things, and it would be nice if we did so with some amount of introspection rather than just by bumbling along.’
    • ‘Alexander begins the film as a socially awkward scientist, bumbling and sweet, with a penchant for pocket watches and professorish vested suits.’
    • ‘If I hadn't done that, I'd probably still be bumbling along wondering why I could barely do a leg curl.’
    blundering, bungling, amateurish, incompetent, inept, unskilful, inexpert, clumsy, maladroit, gauche, awkward, inefficient, muddled, oafish, clodhopping, stumbling, lumbering, foolish, useless
    crude, botched
    ham-fisted, ham-handed, cack-handed
    blunder, lurch, stumble, wobble, lumber, shamble, shuffle, stagger, totter, teeter, reel, weave, pitch, muddle, flounder, falter
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  • 2[no object] Speak in a confused or indistinct way:

    ‘the succeeding speakers bumbled’
    • ‘On the one hand I field calls from the ‘old’ Graham, who in his usual endearingly bumbling way will ask me where and when this year's Open Championship is being held.’
    • ‘And in a parliamentary debate before the war, he rescued a bumbling John Major by speaking passionately in favour of war.’
    • ‘Highly recommended, other than the slight shock of discovering that that pompous idiot is still allowed to bumble away incoherently in this the 21st century.’
    • ‘Legislative Assembly Speaker Judy Maddigan was not there, although bumbling and soon departing Jim Claven was, chairing the meeting so tragically that Bracksy didn't even notice him.’
    • ‘When he won, the elite questioned whether the college dropout was up to running the country and scoffed at his reputation as a bumbling public speaker, bon vivant and serial womanizer.’
    • ‘He stumbles up and bumbles through an introduction, reminding her that they've worked in the same shop for four years.’
    • ‘Now when he visits my work area, he doesn't awkwardly bumble about with the mail trolley looking flustered.’
    • ‘On top of which, while Gzowki's bumbling style of questioning barely masked a furious desire to get at the truth, Rodgers' trademark giggle is just plain annoying and hides little.’
    ramble, babble, burble, drivel, gibber, blather, mumble, mutter, stumble
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    1. 2.1[with adverbial] (of an insect) buzz or hum:
      ‘she watched a bee bumble among the flowers’
      • ‘The bee bumbled too close to the snake for my comfort.’
      • ‘A bee bumbles along near the Alyssum in the garden, importantly busy.’
      • ‘A fat bee bumbled past, hardly clearing the ground.’


Late Middle English (in the sense ‘hum, drone’): from boom + -le.