Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • intransitive v. To touch or handle nervously or idly: fumble with a necktie.
  • intransitive v. To grope awkwardly to find or to accomplish something: fumble for a key.
  • intransitive v. To proceed awkwardly and uncertainly; blunder: fumble through a speech.
  • intransitive v. Football To drop a ball that is in play.
  • intransitive v. Baseball To mishandle a ground ball.
  • transitive v. To touch or handle clumsily or idly: "fumbled the receiver into its cradle” ( Howard Kaplan).
  • transitive v. To make a mess of; bungle. See Synonyms at botch.
  • transitive v. To feel or make (one's way) awkwardly.
  • transitive v. Football To drop (a ball) while in play.
  • transitive v. Baseball To mishandle (a ground ball).
  • n. The act or an instance of fumbling.
  • n. Sports A ball that has been fumbled.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To idly touch or nervously handle
  • v. To grope awkwardly in trying to find something
  • v. To blunder uncertainly
  • v. To drop a ball or a baton etc.
  • n. A ball etc. that has been dropped

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To feel or grope about; to make awkward attempts to do or find something.
  • intransitive v. To grope about in perplexity; to seek awkwardly.
  • intransitive v. To handle much; to play childishly; to turn over and over.
  • transitive v. To handle or manage awkwardly; to crowd or tumble together.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To feel or grope about blindly or clumsily; hence, to make awkward attempts; seek or search for something awkwardly.
  • To stutter; stammer; hesitate in speech; mumble.
  • To find by groping; secure or ascertain by feeling about blindly or clumsily.
  • Specifically In base-ball, to stop or catch, as the ball, in such a clumsy manner that an opportunity is lost to put out an opponent.
  • To manage awkwardly; crowd or tumble together; jumble.
  • n. The act of groping; awkward attempt; aimless search.
  • n. In base-ball, foot-ball, and other games, an act of fumbling.

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

  • v. make a mess of, destroy or ruin
  • v. handle clumsily
  • n. (sports) dropping the ball
  • v. make one's way clumsily or blindly
  • v. drop or juggle or fail to play cleanly a grounder
  • v. feel about uncertainly or blindly

Etymologies

Middle English fomelen, to grope.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Origin uncertain; perhaps from a Scandinavian source. Compare Old Norse falma, Swedish fumla, Danish fumle, German fummeln. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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