v. stum·bled, stum·bling, stum·bles
a. To miss one's step in walking or running; trip and almost fall.
b. To proceed unsteadily or falteringly; flounder. See Synonyms at blunder.
c. To act or speak falteringly or clumsily: an inexperienced actor stumbling through his lines.
2. To make a mistake or mistakes; blunder: The administration stumbled badly on foreign policy.
3. To come upon accidentally or unexpectedly: "The urge to wider voyages ... caused men to stumble upon New America" (Kenneth Cragg).
To cause to stumble.
1. The act of stumbling.
2. A mistake or blunder.
[Middle English stumblen, probably of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse stumra.]
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.