intransitive verb[no object]
1Use the hands clumsily while doing or handling something.
- ‘she fumbled with the lock’
- 1.1fumble around/aboutMove clumsily in various directions using the hands to find one's way.
- ‘Greg fumbled around in the closet and found his black jacket’
- 1.2with object Use the hands clumsily to move (something) as specified.
- ‘she fumbled a cigarette from her bag’
- 1.3American Football with object Drop or lose control of (the ball), sometimes causing a turnover.
- ‘he seldom fumbled a ball’
- 1.4with object (in other ball games) fail to catch or field (the ball, a pass, a shot, etc.) cleanly.
- 1.5Express oneself or deal with something clumsily or nervously.
- ‘asked for explanations, Michael had fumbled for words’
nounusually in singular
1An act of using the hands clumsily while doing or handling something.
- ‘just one fumble during a tire change could separate the winners from the losers’
- 1.1American Football An act of dropping or losing control of the ball, sometimes causing a turnover.
- ‘his fumble was recovered on the 6-yard line’
- 1.2(in other ball games) an act of failing to catch or field the ball cleanly.
- 1.3An act of managing or dealing with something clumsily.
- ‘we are not talking about subtle errors of judgment, but major fumbles’
Late Middle English from Low German fommeln or Dutch fommelen.
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