To stumble means to trip or lose your balance while walking or running, often resulting in a sudden, uncontrolled movement or a brief loss of coordination.


US English

UK English

Part of Speech



trip, fall, stagger, falter, flounder, bumble, blunder.


steady, balance, stride, march, saunter.

Word Forms

Part of Speech Words
Noun stumblers, stumbler, stumble, stumbles
Verb stumbling, stumbled, stumble, stumbles
Adjective None
Adverb None

Example Sentences

  • She stumbled over the loose pavement, her foot catching on a crack and sending her sprawling onto the ground.

  • As he tried to speak confidently in front of the crowd, he stumbled over his words, fumbling and tripping over his own thoughts.

  • The hiker lost her footing on the slippery trail and stumbled downhill, desperately grasping for something to hold onto.

  • Holding her breath, she tiptoed through the dark room, her foot catching on a hidden obstacle, causing her to lose balance and stumble forward.


The word “stumble” originated from Middle English and can be traced back to the Old English word “stumblian,” meaning to trip or fall. It is primarily used as a verb, but can also be used as a noun to refer to a misstep or error.

The term “stumble” typically describes an unintentional loss of balance or a sudden, awkward movement while walking or running. It connotes a lack of grace or coordination, often resulting in a brief disruption of movement. Whether it’s caused by an obstacle on the ground, uneven surfaces, or even psychological factors like nervousness or distraction, stumbling is a common occurrence that can happen to anyone.

The word “stumble” does not have any specific prefixes or suffixes. However, it is worth noting that the root word “stum-” can be found in related words such as “stump” and “stutter.” While “stumble” primarily focuses on physical movement, “stutter” refers to a disruption in speech patterns, and “stump” can refer to a part of a tree or a remaining obstacle.

The usage of “stumble” extends beyond physical actions. It is often used metaphorically to describe mistakes, errors, or moments of hesitation in various contexts, such as in speech, decision-making, and problem-solving. Additionally, it can be used figuratively to describe unexpected setbacks or difficulties in one’s journey or progress.

Overall, the word “stumble” captures the idea of an accidental loss of balance or a sudden interruption in movement, serving as a versatile term that can depict physical, cognitive, and metaphorical challenges.