Definition of stumble in US English:

stumble

verb

[no object]
  • 1Trip or momentarily lose one's balance; almost fall.

    ‘her foot caught a shoe and she stumbled’
    • ‘The body tripped and stumbled momentarily but carried on regardless.’
    • ‘I feel as though at any moment I will stumble and fall off the earth.’
    • ‘Phillip turned to see the boy, no older than thirteen, stumble, and fall hard to his knees on the floor.’
    • ‘This change in balance caused her to stumble and erupt in a fit of giggles.’
    • ‘But when she began stumbling and losing her balance, she knew something was seriously wrong.’
    • ‘That way, your bud doesn't have to deal with stumbling or losing his or her balance when the train comes to a bumpy stop.’
    • ‘How she got lost and stumbled in on Andrew's father pulling a silencer back from somebody's head.’
    • ‘He did not, however, hold onto her car as he approached it, or stumble or lose his footing.’
    • ‘Thorn ran and thrust the stick into the back of the demon, making him lose his balance, and stumbling.’
    • ‘But he said he fell badly and stumbled, falling under some pipes several feet away before slipping into the water.’
    • ‘Unfortunately for us, he never actually falls, just stumbles around for a minute - he's no fun.’
    • ‘As an instinct reaction she hit him back, hard enough to make him stumble to catch his balance.’
    • ‘The question is whether Novell has momentarily stumbled, or has been more badly hurt than is realised.’
    • ‘By now the little fellow was on his last legs and kept stumbling and falling as he forced himself him to his feet and as a result he was disqualified even though he touched the tape first.’
    • ‘Thus, hunters would only have had to have caused T. rex to trip, stumble, and fall in order to obtain an easy prey.’
    • ‘A searing cold gale caused Raven to stumble hard, off balance.’
    • ‘High heels, floppy slippers and shoes with slick soles can make you stumble and fall.’
    • ‘After half an hour of watching our skaters stumble, lurch and fall our amusement at the slapstick show waned and my daughter and I took refuge in the café.’
    • ‘Mr Brake said he slowed down but the elderly man seemed to stumble, falling forward into the path of the van.’
    • ‘Carlo shouted, which caused me to stumble momentarily until I realised it was the name of the song.’
    trip, trip over, trip up, lose one's balance, lose one's footing, miss one's footing, founder, slip, pitch
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    1. 1.1with adverbial of direction Trip repeatedly as one walks.
      ‘his legs still weak, he stumbled after them’
      • ‘A short, elderly woman of unsurpassed hideosity came upon them - or rather, stumbled over them.’
      • ‘She had not got far, however, when in her haste she stumbled over a stray object and landed on her knees.’
      • ‘Here we see, five people stumbling their way across the street.’
      • ‘But the boy had seen it trip, stumble and fall into the road, to be knocked down and killed by an oncoming tractor.’
      • ‘Almost too tired to walk, but I stumbled into the living room and fell on the couch.’
      • ‘He reeled backwards, losing his footing, stumbling behind one of the buildings.’
      • ‘I ran, I stumbled over bodies, fell into ditches and cut and scraped my legs till they were raw.’
      • ‘The second assassin stumbled over a chair on his way inside, cursing to himself.’
      • ‘Both men were blowing hard towards the end of the round when a left hook from Hatton knocked Phillips off balance and he then stumbled to the floor.’
      • ‘She picked herself up and stumbled over to the wall, bracing herself against it.’
      • ‘Marsden said he stumbled over and landed on a knife which he picked up.’
      • ‘Bringing the play to a rousing climax, he stumbled over to Trina and kissed her bulbous balloon lips.’
      • ‘After mechanically putting the food in her mouth, Jenny barely managed to stumble upstairs and fall into bed.’
      • ‘She sobs on my shoulder and stumbles up the last few steps.’
      • ‘Eddie fell backwards, stumbling over the edge of the trail, but caught on with one hand, perilously hanging over the precipice.’
      • ‘He tried to get out of bed and stumbled over the thick carpeting of his penthouse apartment.’
      • ‘As I stumbled over tree roots and stones, the shadows and darkness closed in again.’
      • ‘Three weeks later workers stumbled over a young woman's body in an abandoned football field on the other side of town.’
      • ‘My wife, Justine, stumbled over her as she went to wake the children for school.’
      • ‘For two to three hours they stumbled over the shattered remains of the city in silence.’
      stagger, totter, teeter, dodder, lurch, lumber, blunder, reel, flounder, bumble, shamble, hobble, wobble, move clumsily
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    2. 1.2 Make a mistake or repeated mistakes in speaking.
      ‘she stumbled over the words’
      • ‘He excitedly stumbled over pronouncing my name and ran up and clutched at my legs.’
      • ‘Mary stumbled over her words but try as she might all she could do was mutter useless syllables.’
      • ‘If she stumbled over our Australian slang, we either cut it or rewrote it.’
      • ‘Stealth stumbled over her words, so eager was she to get them out.’
      • ‘He stumbled over his instructions, trying to keep his eyes stern and controlling.’
      • ‘She stumbled over her words as her cheeks flushed a dark pink of embarrassment.’
      • ‘He is just reading it now, and he stumbled over the opening story as well.’
      • ‘Despite his knowledge, he was still a bit nervous, and stumbled over his words at times.’
      • ‘I stumbled over my mumbled responses, trying to form questions I knew needed asking.’
      • ‘Her mind stumbled over the words, still not quite awake enough to think straight.’
      • ‘He said his lines with snaky smoothness, and I stumbled over mine with angry uncertainty.’
      • ‘She stumbled over words as she crossed to the workbench to get the supplies she wanted.’
      • ‘However, when he came to examine capitalist society he stumbled over the question of profit.’
      stammer, stutter, hesitate, falter, speak haltingly, fumble for words
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    3. 1.3stumble across/on/upon Find or encounter by chance.
      ‘they stumbled across a farmer selling 25 acres’
      • ‘I mean, the chances of us stumbling on one of these top three or four people is about zero.’
      • ‘Yet, occasionally, there is a slim chance that one might stumble upon a small precious preserve where people talk.’
      • ‘The subjects for his entry for the Schweppes award were stumbled upon in an entirely chance encounter.’
      • ‘Over Christmas, I had the chance to stumble on a remark by George Orwell on the quality of speeches in the House of Commons in the 1940s.’
      • ‘I never thought something was amiss until today when I came across this forum and a chance stumbling on to some related websites.’
      • ‘He and Nancy stumbled across it by chance as they walked through a boatyard not far from home.’
      • ‘During his trip he encounters a series of curious characters and stumbles upon a dark family secret.’
      • ‘If scientists were working hard on behalf of athletes to boost their performance in this way, who knows what discoveries they might stumble upon.’
      • ‘‘The chances of us stumbling on one of the top guys are zero,’ he said.’
      • ‘Just turn on the news; there's a good chance you'll stumble upon some type of immigration control debate.’
      • ‘Soon we were stumbling upon a rustic-looking pub with plenty of outdoor tables for eating and drinking, and then we were surrounded by acres of grassland.’
      • ‘Basically what I did was make this amazing discovery and I stumbled on it quite frankly by accident.’
      • ‘To let you know, if you two straw to far from the road there is a chance of you stumbling upon a native of these here parts.’
      • ‘Call us selfish, snobbish even, but there's an undeniable delight in stumbling upon something no one else seems to have heard before.’
      • ‘Almost the whole city does seem to operate in the shadow of the past to some extent; in the centre one is always stumbling upon war memorials, parks and museums.’
      • ‘The highlight of three hours of trudging was something I stumbled across by chance.’
      • ‘The world is his oyster to discover, as he stumbles on through life towards his future retirement as the ex-leader of the National Party.’
      • ‘Quite by chance we had, not so literally this time, stumbled upon one of the most favoured sites in the country for the declining bird.’
      • ‘Chances are you'll stumble on a Michelin-starred restaurant.’
      • ‘More than a century later an American research assistant book uncovers the secret after stumbling upon one of the writer's letters.’
      come across, come upon, chance on, happen on, light on, hit on, come up with
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noun

  • 1An act of stumbling.

    • ‘The smiles have been wide indeed down the Fulham Road, despite the recent stumbles against Bolton and Villa.’
    • ‘There have been other stumbles, and that's been part of a problem she has had on the whole issue of Israel, which has compounded itself in this latest mess.’
    • ‘It's a movement full of goofy stumbles, miles away from the suavity of Mozart and Classicism.’
    • ‘Every week starts fresh, so do not let your past stumbles affect your future progress!’
    • ‘After a great start and a couple of major stumbles, Modernism is back in Toronto.’
    • ‘Tung Chee-hwa's stumbles raise doubts about whether he should seek another term as Hong Kong's leader.’
    • ‘It looks great, aside from the usual low-budget stumbles or the occasional oddly-delivered line or ill-fitting costume.’
    • ‘But even the best newspaper operating during what Broder must imagine as the salad days of journalism stumbles.’
    • ‘Ken Duberstein, in these early days of the Bush White House, there seemed to be some conflicting signals being sent, some would call them miscommunications or stumbles.’
    • ‘But his occasional stumbles should not erase his efforts to uphold the bygone standards of Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite.’
    • ‘Early stumbles or successes may turn out to be a mere blip in the long run.’
    • ‘They depict a kind of fall from quotidian grace - evoking a realm where spills, stumbles and bumps thwart our schedules, routines and Palm Pilot agendas.’
    • ‘I'm intrigued with the unexpected twists, turns, stumbles and rebirths that life presents - with the resulting seasoning and forming effects they have on us.’
    • ‘While I'm not saying that he deserved to die, those last few stumbles of his into the swimming pool now seem strangely satisfying.’
    • ‘I speculated in my Hill column on Thursday about why the White House has had this run of stumbles.’
    • ‘There were a couple of minor slips and stumbles, but they really didn't detract from the overall look.’
    • ‘In her earlier, greater work, someone - in the end, among the disasters and the funny bits and the painful stumbles and everyone crashing out in some way - would have come through smiling.’
    • ‘He also seemed to say that the mix of attacks and stumbles over the last month hasn't hurt Dean, in the sense of eroding his support, but has for the moment at least arrested any further gains.’
    • ‘There's plenty of stumbles in the thing, but they're quick and rare.’
    • ‘Chances gone begging made way for sliced clearances, hacked hoofs, stumbles, bobbles, blocked shots and mis-hit passes.’
    fall, trip, spill
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    1. 1.1 A stumbling walk.
      ‘he parodied my groping stumble across the stage’
      • ‘A slight stumble going down the risers to leave the stage did not mar the performance at all.’
      • ‘It's like watching a sober guy walk his drunk friend home; just one stumble and they both hit the sidewalk.’
      • ‘Angela quickly recovered from her stumble, and began to limp while walking ahead of him, hoping he wouldn't notice.’
      • ‘But what's a little stumble when you can walk through a lush cloud forest, gawk at howler monkeys and wade in a lake on the floor of a volcanic crater?’
      • ‘At this stage he was correcting himself from a stumble.’
      • ‘The effort to walk to the cars quickly becomes a stumble as we both loose adrenaline.’
      • ‘He grinned down at her and walked by her giving her a shove making her stumble.’

Origin

Middle English (as a verb): from Old Norse, from the Germanic base of stammer.

Pronunciation

stumble

/ˈstəmbəl//ˈstəmbəl/