v. fum·bled, fum·bling, fum·bles
1. To touch or handle nervously or idly: fumble with a necktie.
2. To grope awkwardly to find or to accomplish something: fumble for a key.
3. To proceed awkwardly and uncertainly; blunder: fumble through a speech.
a. Football To drop a ball that is in play.
b. Baseball To mishandle a ground ball.
1. To touch or handle clumsily or idly: "fumbled the skeleton key into the lock and turned it" (Bentley Dadmun).
2. To make a mess of; bungle. See Synonyms at botch.
3. To feel or make (one's way) awkwardly.
a. Football To drop (a ball) while in play.
b. Baseball To mishandle (a ground ball).
1. The act or an instance of fumbling.
2. Sports A ball that has been fumbled.
[Middle English fomelen, to grope.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.