Definition of tumble in English:



  • 1[no object, with adverbial] Fall suddenly, clumsily, or headlong.

    ‘she pitched forward, tumbling down the remaining stairs’
    • ‘Loose chunks of grit and rubble tumbled down on them.’
    • ‘Suddenly her heel caught in the stairs and she tumbled down, head first, ruining her flowers and expensive hair do.’
    • ‘With a misguided step, Darien tumbled down a steep hill.’
    • ‘He tumbled down the stairs and landed at the bottom.’
    • ‘Rebecca tumbled down after her, and Gabby fell somewhere on top of both of them.’
    • ‘The leaves tumbled down the path, agitated by a sudden breeze.’
    • ‘The excavator had been lowering a skip to the bottom of the hole when it tipped over the edge and tumbled down.’
    • ‘He fell forward over the baloneys edge and tumbled down.’
    • ‘I turned over to find I had fallen down the stairs, and I had also hit my arm against the banister as I tumbled down.’
    • ‘They tumbled down, falling down a small hill then down some brush.’
    • ‘Fat drops tumbled down to slick the streets.’
    • ‘All of a sudden, Alli tripped and tumbled down the steps.’
    • ‘Speaking to the doctor, she found out that Andrea had been hit on the head, tumbled down the stairs and had been caught in a fire.’
    • ‘Looking up at the water fall she had just tumbled down she decided to keep moving.’
    • ‘She nearly let go and tumbled down the side of the rocks.’
    • ‘He tumbled down towards the ground, Flintar trailing him.’
    • ‘He tumbled down to the edge and narrowly managed to avoid falling to almost certain death.’
    • ‘Her body tumbled down to the ground.’
    • ‘She tumbled down the steps, and got knocked unconscious.’
    • ‘He released the gun and tumbled down the stairs.’
    fall down, topple over, lose one's footing, lose one's balance, keel over, pitch over, take a spill, collapse, fall headlong, fall head over heels, fall end over end
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    1. 1.1Move or rush in a headlong or uncontrolled way.
      ‘police and dogs tumbled from the vehicle’
      • ‘The pair tumbled into his room, pitch black with night.’
      • ‘Ten minutes late, he tumbles into the room in a kind of flailing pirouette, scatter gunning apologies.’
      • ‘As she said it, she flung the door open, and a young man tumbled into the room.’
      • ‘India tumbles on uncontrollably to becoming the diabetes capital of the world.’
      • ‘They all tumbled into their room, getting out their work.’
      • ‘Doug turned so I wouldn't hit the floor and we tumbled into the room causing several heads to turn.’
      • ‘She saw them tumbling towards her and rushed to help them.’
      • ‘They ran up together as fast as they could and tumbled into Ginnys room.’
      • ‘We tumbled out of the vehicle and took in the view.’
      • ‘Charles tumbled out of the room, and leaped to his feet.’
      • ‘I'm parked in front of the television my thumb resting on the remote control volume button in case the kids decide to noisily tumble into the room.’
      • ‘He moved out of her way as she nearly tumbled into the aisle.’
      hurry, rush, scramble, pile
      cascade, fall, stream, flow, pour, spill
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    2. 1.2[with object]Rumple; disarrange.
      ‘his tumbled bedclothes’
      tousle, dishevel, ruffle, rumple, make untidy, disarrange, disorder, mess up
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  • 2[no object] Perform acrobatic feats, typically handsprings and somersaults in the air.

    • ‘People who easily tumble on land can become quickly disoriented trying to do the same move in the water.’
    • ‘The specialized art of jumping, tumbling, and balancing, requiring agility and skilful control of the body.’
    • ‘She earned her highest score of the day, a 9.525, on floor exercise, where she tumbled a split-leg double layout.’
    • ‘I will probably have to get surgery after Worlds because, for now, I can't tumble at all.’
    • ‘In 1999, she suffered the same injury to her left knee while tumbling on floor exercise.’
    • ‘But he tumbled several high double layouts on floor exercise, and caught both a Kolman and layout Kovacs on high bar.’
    • ‘She remembered weather like this when she would get thrown up in stunts, yelling out cheers, tumbling until it hurt.’
    • ‘If you want to juggle, fly on the trapeze, tumble: here's the place to do it.’
    • ‘Stacey's parents saw talent in their daughter, who loved tumbling on their front lawn with her best friend.’
    • ‘On floor exercise one gymnast tumbled a double layout, two whips to double pike, and stuck full-in dismount.’
    • ‘They threw themselves through the air, others tumbled, cartwheeled and bounced.’
    • ‘Gonzales tumbled well on floor, showing a double layout, Arabian double front, full-in, and whip to double pike.’
    • ‘They tumble, juggle, balance, swing and hula hoop with a confidence and humour far beyond what you would expect for students of a tertiary course.’
    • ‘A fractured bone in her foot restricted Pam to tumbling and vaulting only once a week leading up to the competition.’
    • ‘Being able to balance on her hands, to turn cartwheels, to tumble and flip is part of who she is.’
    1. 2.1(of a breed of pigeon) repeatedly turn over backwards in flight.
  • 3Fall rapidly in amount or value.

    ‘property prices tumbled’
    • ‘In an economic slowdown, corporate profits fall and stock prices tumble, too.’
    • ‘Prices have tumbled.’
    • ‘U.S. Cattle prices tumbled almost 18 percent as a $3 billion export market blinked out.’
    • ‘Homeownership is a key source of consumer wealth, and home values have been rising even as stock prices have tumbled.’
    • ‘The company was slow to react when rival cut their prices and sales tumbled.’
    • ‘The weather is still glorious, the crowds have thinned out and prices have tumbled.’
    • ‘Home owners have complained that the parade of neglected shops and flats on St George's Avenue has sent property prices in the area tumbling and left them unable to sell their houses.’
    • ‘Homeowners, watching the value of their flats tumble, complain that he flip-flopped on his housing policy - without telling the public.’
    • ‘There's more money around, people are experimenting and the price of cocaine is tumbling.’
    • ‘Prices continue to tumble, and the machines grow ever faster.’
    • ‘Will the arrival of new broadband services see prices tumble?’
    • ‘Prices tumbled, imports poured in, banks lost their silver reserves and collapsed, and industrial firms went bankrupt for lack of cash.’
    • ‘The market value of wealth has tumbled, the real estate bubble looks set to burst, and unemployment is now rising sharply.’
    • ‘A silver lining in the world economy can be found in the global oil market, where prices have been tumbling in recent weeks.’
    • ‘Stock prices tumbled today on word of a big drop in consumer confidence.’
    • ‘In a recent article, The Times newspaper suggested there could be an oversupply of natural gas in two years and prices could tumble.’
    • ‘Picture phones: you might sniff at them now, but picture phones are becoming more pervasive and prices are tumbling.’
    • ‘The football club's market value has now tumbled from £34.9 million in September last year.’
    • ‘Estate agents predict house values could tumble.’
    • ‘Share prices tumbled, and the total value of shares in Britain is less than half what it was at the height of the 1990s boom.’
    fall sharply, fall steeply, plummet, plunge, dive, nosedive, take a dive, drop rapidly, slump, slide, fall, decrease, decline
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  • 4[with object] Dry (washing) in a tumble dryer.

    ‘the machine gentle tumbles the clothes in cool air for ten minutes’
    • ‘The drying process for doing laundry at home is either hanging clothes on a clothesline or tumbling them in a gas- or electric-heated dryer.’
  • 5informal [no object] Understand the meaning or hidden implication of (a situation)

    ‘she'll ring again as soon as she tumbles to what she's done’
    • ‘Rather oddly, Mrs Waters does not now or later tumble to Tom's identity.’
    realize, understand, grasp, comprehend, take in, apprehend, perceive, see, recognize
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  • 6informal [with object] Have sexual intercourse with.

    ‘he was tumbling a strange woman’
  • 7[with object] Clean (castings, gemstones, etc.) in a tumbling barrel.


  • 1A sudden or headlong fall.

    ‘I took a tumble in the nettles’
    • ‘When he tumbles headlong down some stairs, we're treated to a slow-motion pan, looking down on him.’
    • ‘She took a tumble and banged up her left knee.’
    • ‘The day was filled with crashes and tumbles in the deep powder.’
    • ‘A competitor in the under 17 race was taken to casualty with a damaged shoulder after taking a tumble on the descent.’
    • ‘Hopefully, the drawbacks will be overcome before somebody else takes a painful tumble on the daunting steps in the inky gloom.’
    • ‘In my fifth month, I received a phonecall from England informing me that my grandfather had fallen over; nothing life-threatening, just a simple tumble in the garden.’
    • ‘He certainly gave it his all until a tumble in the second half saw him pick up an horrific leg injury.’
    • ‘The condition means a simple tumble can leave the 14-year-old with broken bones and Hayley has suffered more than 200 fractures since she was born.’
    • ‘You take your tumbles with good grace and always come up smiling.’
    • ‘He has failed to recover fully from the broken neck which he suffered in a horrible tumble.’
    • ‘I caught up with the globetrotting Frenchman in Brisbane and discovered that besides the odd tumble from his motorbike, Gerard has also fallen in love.’
    • ‘He took a nasty tumble.’
    • ‘Fulham appeal for a penalty when Brevett takes a tumble in the area.’
    • ‘The woman fell to the ground in a small tumble.’
    • ‘‘I didn't feel great,’ she admitted, confessing to having had a hip injury since she took a tumble in her previous track race in America last weekend.’
    • ‘Her helmet had fallen off in the undignified tumble.’
    • ‘McSharry won despite taking a tumble at the 23-miles mark.’
    • ‘Ry jumped around stage in excitement before falling off it in a faked tumble of limbs.’
    • ‘She has taken a tumble before, but the compulsory crash helmet, leathers and gloves prevented injuries.’
    • ‘He is in such decline his defeat only emphasised that the tumble is irreversible.’
    fall, trip, spill
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    1. 1.1An untidy or confused arrangement or state.
      ‘her hair was a tumble of untamed curls’
      • ‘His bloodshot, blue eyes were hidden behind a tumble of greasy brown hair.’
      • ‘He had tumbles of dark hair past his shoulders, a smirking mouth and a naturally flirty gaze.’
      • ‘Her tumble of raven colored hair fell across her shoulders spilling into her lap.’
      • ‘I heard the soft snick of a door as the glaring lights and confused tumble of sound was shut away.’
      • ‘A young man stepped into the firelight, his face partly obscured by tumbles of dark brown hair.’
      • ‘I would have recognized the set of her back and the tumble of her blond hair anywhere.’
      • ‘Her tumble of glossy black curls hid everything but the tip of her nose.’
      • ‘Her hair was a tumble of blonde curls.’
      jumble, mess, clutter, confusion
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  • 2A handspring, somersault in the air, or other acrobatic feat.

    • ‘He did the high wire. He did the acrobat tumbles.’
    • ‘She can perform huge vertical or horizontal leaps, often resulting in gymnastic tumbles and rolls in midair.’
    • ‘I have never recaptured the excitement of running up to begin a tumble or of preparing for that first round-off and back-flip.’
    • ‘Hampton has been into fitness since she took her first tumble in gymnastics as a young girl.’
  • 3A rapid fall in amount or value.

    ‘a tumble in share prices’
    • ‘Telecommunications stocks have taken a tumble, but some telecom CEOs still managed to create value for their shareholders.’
    • ‘Here are five companies that could falter should house prices take a tumble.’
    • ‘There is a lot of upset around its share price tumble.’
    • ‘The crash had a period of exuberance followed by an alarmingly rapid tumble.’
    • ‘Last week, as the company's shares took a tumble, they must have been asking if their golden goose was about to be slain.’
    • ‘Flabbergasted auctioneer Keith Lomax blamed Beckham's penalty stumble for the tumble in prices.’
    • ‘Prices have taken a tumble.’
    • ‘Demand is suddenly more than sated and the price of chips takes a mighty tumble.’
    • ‘The tumble erased 4.4 billion euros from the company's market value for the week.’
    • ‘So far this year, sizeable share price tumbles are running at half the rate seen during last year.’
    • ‘Despite the predictions, some first-time buyers remained confident there would be a tumble in prices.’
    • ‘What if interest rates were to suddenly rise sharply or prices in the capital were to take a tumble?’
    • ‘Like his marriage, the shares took a tumble.’
    • ‘The company's shares inevitably took a tumble.’
    • ‘The airline's shares recorded a further 19% one-day tumble after warning of the impact of higher fuel prices.’
    • ‘There had been fears that Friday's game would have hit the markets badly, with thousands taking a day off work and share prices taking a tumble, whatever the outcome.’
    • ‘Lamb producers are bracing themselves for a tumble in prices.’
    • ‘Wool prices took a tumble in Sydney and Melbourne yesterday.’
    drop, fall, plunge, dive, nosedive, slump, decline, collapse
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  • 4informal An act of sexual intercourse.

    • ‘I figured anyone who's that good in bed would definitely be worth a tumble.’
  • 5US informal A friendly sign of recognition, acknowledgement, or interest.

    ‘not a soul gave him a tumble’


Middle English (as a verb, also in the sense ‘dance with contortions’): from Middle Low German tummelen; compare with Old English tumbian ‘to dance’. The sense was probably influenced by Old French tomber to fall. The noun, first in the sense ‘tangled mass’, dates from the mid 17th century.