Definitions

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A bittern, Botaurus stellaris.
  • noun A bumblebee. Also bombell, bummle.
  • noun A jumble or confused heap; confusion.
  • noun An awkward person.
  • To make a humming noise; boom; cry like a bittern.
  • To make a splash in the sea.
  • To scold.
  • To start off quickly.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • intransitive verb to act ineptly or without clear understanding of what one is doing; to blunder; to stumble about; -- sometimes used with around.
  • transitive verb to bungle (a task).
  • intransitive verb To make a hollow or humming noise, like that of a bumblebee; to buzz; to cry as a bittern.
  • noun (Zoöl.), Local, Eng. The bittern.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A bumble-bee.
  • noun provincial The bittern.
  • verb intransitive To boom, as a bittern; to buzz, as a fly.
  • noun A confusion, jumble.
  • verb To act in an inept, clumsy or inexpert manner; to make mistakes.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • verb speak haltingly
  • verb make a mess of, destroy or ruin
  • verb walk unsteadily

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

(onomatopoeia). Compare bungle, jumble, and fumble.

Examples

  • Russian espionage of what the British call bumble and cock-up.

    Yahoo! News: Top Stories

  • For some species, such as bumble bees, this is the source of many of the males in the species.

    December 4th, 2006

  • There's nothing I know of that loses so much of size in the seasoning process as a politician -- excepting a "bumble" bee and a basswood log.

    Tattlings of a Retired Politician

  • But, to go back to the "bumble" bee proposition: I've broken up enough nests in the old south meadow, when I was a boy, to prevent me from seeing out of both eyes for a week; but the lessons I learned while nursing my stings have stood me in good stead in many a campaign.

    Tattlings of a Retired Politician

  • Your story about Kite Hendee puts me in mind of a little chapter in the gentle art of grafting that bears right on this "bumble" bee point and is worth remembering.

    Tattlings of a Retired Politician

  • When you size up a bunch of aldermen or a new legislature, just remember the simple little fact of natural history that a "bumble" bee is always biggest right after it's hatched.

    Tattlings of a Retired Politician

  • And a large "bumble," with a sting as pitiless as the finger of scorn, just then climbed up the inside of Mr. Middlerib's nightshirt, until it got squarely between his shoulders, and then it felt for his marrow, and he said calmly:

    Masterpieces of American Wit and Humor

  • She had the responsibility and honor of driving Ruth and the dolls in her own donkey-cart to the scene of action, where the school children, and some of the idlest or most good-natured of Mrs. Alwynn's friends, were even then assembling, and where Mrs. Alwynn herself was already dashing from point to point, buzzing like a large "bumble" bee.

    The Danvers Jewels, and Sir Charles Danvers

  • How soothing to a spirit tired of the city's din is this solitude, broken only by the singing of the birds and the drowsy droning of the bee, erroneously termed 'bumble'!

    In the Midst of Alarms

  • But for the last two days it has been the great wild bee, the humble-bee, or "bumble," as the children call him.

    Specimen Days; from Complete Poetry and Collected Prose

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