stumble

stumble, trip, blunder, lurch, flounder, lumber, galumph, lollop, bumble can mean to move unsteadily, clumsily, or with defective equilibrium (as in walking, in doing, or in proceeding). Stumble, trip, blunder, lurch, and flounder as applied to physical movement or gait usually suggest a departure from the normal and imply some extraneous influence to be responsible for such departure.
Stumble characteristically implies striking an obstacle or impediment which hinders free movement or direct progress and therefore usually suggests a fall or a check or a cause of embarrassment or perplexity
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the horse stumbled over a stone and threw its rider

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he found himself running from tree to tree . . . stumbling wildly towards the cleared ground— Caldwell

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his thought staggers, and reels, and stumblesMartin Gardner

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the classic instance of the second-rate man who is offered a first-rate destiny, and who, in stumbling after it, loses his way in the world— Buchan

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Occasionally stumble implies nothing more than accidental discovery or a coming upon without design
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she tried to rationalize his death as we will, stumbling onto such conclusions as that it was time for him to go; he was meant to die young— Cheever

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Trip definitely implies a loss of footing or of something comparable to a loss of footing, often on account of the interposition of an unseen obstacle; therefore in extended use trip often connotes a falling into a trap, a lapsing in speech, or making a wrong move
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his plump hands wavering uncertainly away from his body as he tripped, and caught up and tripped, trying desperately not to fall behind the men running— Mailer

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how I rejoiced when I found an author trippingTyndall

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his tongue tripped over the word

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any military man familiar with firearms could trip you up, and if you were found out, you'd be hanged— Kenneth Roberts

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Blunder stresses awkward confusion in movement or in proceeding that may suggest blindness, aimlessness, clumsiness, ignorance, or a failure to perceive where one is going or what is to be accomplished
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Unsteady on his feet and taken completely by surprise, he blundered headlong through the open doorway . . . and fell sprawling— Isherwood

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there was the constant danger of blundering into a house at a time when it was being ransacked by the Gestapo— Valtin

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the van . . . blundered away down the cart track like a drunken bee— Jan Struther

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various blundering attempts were made at alliance between various branches of thought— T. S. Eliot

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Lurch suggests the heavy, ungainly rolling or swaying movement of a ship in a storm or of a drunken man; when applied more generally to persons, it usually implies loss of muscular control or extreme clumsiness
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the distraught and frightened man . . . raised himself on his hands and lurched forward— Anderson

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sometimes, down the trough of darkness formed by the path under the hedges, men came lurching home— D. H. Lawrence

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the conductor . . . lurches through the car asking for tickets— Styron

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Flounder stresses stumbling, struggling, or sprawling rather than rolling and usually implies an effort to proceed when one is out of one's element (as a fish out of water or a horse in the mire) or when one does not know the road or the way
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went swiftly into the forest, leaping with sure feet over logs and brush. Pilon floundered behind him— Steinbeck

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they floundered on foot some eight miles to a squatter's cabin— Cather

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In its extended use flounder usually implies the confusion of mind and the uncertainty of one who is completely muddled or at a loss but nevertheless proceeds
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individuals who can't get a foothold in life, who flounder about in bewildered desperation— Deutsch

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nature has been floundering along for a great many millions of years to get things as they are— Furnas

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Lumber, galumph, lollop, and bumble by contrast with the foregoing terms tend to suggest clumsiness, irregularity, or heaviness as a natural or usual manner of movement or gait.
Lumber implies a ponderousness or clumsiness in movement (as of one heavily burdened or of great weight)
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the jeep, opening its siren at a column of Quartermaster's trucks that lumbered along half a mile ahead, summoned them with stentorian wails to move over— Cozzens

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a veritable mountain of a man, [he] deeply resented the attention he invariably attracted when he lumbered down a Manhattan thoroughfare— Cerf

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In extended use it implies comparable ponderousness or clumsiness in proceeding or accomplishing
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widespread exasperation with the union leadership and at the lumbering slowness of the machinery of negotiation— New Statesman

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where so many other historical novels lumber along beneath their load of conscientious detail, Mr. Graves's imagination is invariably stimulated by what he finds— Strong

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Galumph adds to lumber the suggestion of a thumping, bumping, weighty gait
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Frankie lived by day beside the ceaseless, dumping shuffle of the three-legged elephant which was the laundry's sheet- rolling machine. When he piled onto his narrow pad in the long dim-lit dorm at night and turned his face to the white-washed wall, the three-legged elephant of the mangle roller followed, galumphing, through dreams— A Igren

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doors banged, voices rose shrilly, several pairs of feet galumphed down the passage— Monica Stirling

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The notion of thumping or of heavy, lurching irregularity is often prominent in extended use
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I was sweating in the cool air, my heart galumphing as I stood up— McHugh

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the mornings are enlivened by the spectacle of high- ranking naval and Air Force officers, who will be horse-borne in the procession, uneasily galumphing along the bridle path on their mounts— Panter-Downes

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but sometimes it retains an earlier implication of gaily clumsy prancing
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to a country that liked to think of its leaders as... mad but never without their dignity, Low brought the manhandling democratic touch. He made rank and office commonplace, turned politics into a galumphing merry-go-round— Pritchett

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Lollop is more likely to suggest bounding irregularity than clumsiness or heaviness
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calves lolloped in long grass— Patrick White

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the lioness . . . started to charge and seemed to come on in great bounds. She appeared to be lolloping along with a lot of up-anddown motion— F. G. Stewart

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an interurban trolley line (which terrified me the way it went lolloping around curves)— Palmer

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the breeze went lolloping along the corridors, blowing the blinds out— Woolf

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Bumble suggests a blundering, haphazard progress
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the hot auditorium where the June bugs bumbled foolishly against the window screens— Stafford

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plane ... hit the ground, her tail wheel exploded, and she came leaping like a grasshopper up the runway on a flat tail wheel .... She bumped and bumbled up to the line— Steinbeck

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and, especially in its extended use, may carry more than a suggestion of floundering and blundering
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this novel describes a whole small town as it bumbles its way towards an acceptable life under conditions it never made— Graham Bates

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so long as we continue pursuing so shortsighted and blind a policy, so long, I believe, will we bumble and stumble into error— Cherin

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Analogous words: stagger, totter, *reel: *plunge, pitch, dive: falter, *hesitate, waver, vacillate: chance, *venture: encounter, *meet, confront

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • stumble on — ˈstumble a ˌcross ˈstumble on ˈstumble up ˌon [transitive] [present tense I/you/we/they stumble across he/she/it stumbles across pr …   Useful english dictionary

  • stumble — [stum′bəl] vi. stumbled, stumbling [ME stumblen < Scand, as in Norw dial. stumba, ON stumra < IE base * stem , to bump against, hamper > STAMMER, Ger stumm, Du stom, mute] 1. to trip or miss one s step in walking, running, etc. 2. to… …   English World dictionary

  • Stumble — Stum ble, v. t. 1. To cause to stumble or trip. [1913 Webster] 2. Fig.: To mislead; to confound; to perplex; to cause to err or to fall. [1913 Webster] False and dazzling fires to stumble men. Milton. [1913 Webster] One thing more stumbles me in… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Stumble — Stum ble, v. i. [imp. & p. p. {Stumbled}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Stumbling}.] [OE. stumblen, stomblen; freq. of a word akin to E. stammer. See {Stammer}.] 1. To trip in walking or in moving in any way with the legs; to strike the foot so as to fall, or …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • stumble — (v.) c.1300, to trip or miss one s footing (physically or morally), probably from a Scandinavian source (Cf. dialectal Norw. stumla, Swed. stambla to stumble ), probably from a variant of the P.Gmc. base *stam , source of O.E. stamerian to… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Stumble — Stum ble, n. 1. A trip in walking or running. [1913 Webster] 2. A blunder; a failure; a fall from rectitude. [1913 Webster] One stumble is enough to deface the character of an honorable life. L Estrange. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Stumble — is Prakash Belawadi s debut film. It won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in English in 2003. It depicts the new economy, the dot com bust, stock market scams, mutual funds, and voluntary retirement.The production team intended… …   Wikipedia

  • stumble — [v1] slip, stagger blunder, bumble, careen, err, fall, fall down, falter, flounder, hesitate, limp, lose balance, lumber, lurch, muddle, pitch, reel, shuffle, stammer, swing, tilt, topple, totter, trip, wallow, waver, wobble; concepts 101,181… …   New thesaurus

  • stumble — ► VERB 1) trip or momentarily lose one s balance. 2) walk unsteadily. 3) make a mistake or repeated mistakes in speaking. 4) (stumble across/on/upon) find by chance. ► NOUN ▪ an act of stumbling. ORIGIN …   English terms dictionary

  • stumble — index miscalculate, miscue, mistake Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

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