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Fumble   /fˈəmbəl/   Listen
Fumble

verb
(past & past part. fumbled; pres. part. fumbling)
1.
Feel about uncertainly or blindly.  Synonym: grope.
2.
Make one's way clumsily or blindly.  Synonym: blunder.
3.
Handle clumsily.
4.
Make a mess of, destroy or ruin.  Synonyms: ball up, blow, bobble, bodge, bollix, bollix up, bollocks, bollocks up, botch, botch up, bumble, bungle, flub, fluff, foul up, fuck up, louse up, mess up, mishandle, muck up, muff, screw up, spoil.  "The pianist screwed up the difficult passage in the second movement"
5.
Drop or juggle or fail to play cleanly a grounder.



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"Fumble" Quotes from Famous Books



... shall be, mayhaps, that it was by reason of this thing that the water, when I did make it, did fizz upward in a moment very loud and plentiful, and did boil overward to the earth from out of the cup, and wet upon my hand. And surely this thought did come very keen to my Reason, as I did fumble, each time of mine eating, there in the everlasting night and ...
— The Night Land • William Hope Hodgson

... sleep again," he said. The next day at noon, punctual to the minute, he entered his lecture theatre, put his hat on the end of the table as his habit was, and carefully selected a large piece of chalk. It was a joke among his students that he could not lecture without that piece of chalk to fumble in his fingers, and once he had been stricken to impotence by their hiding his supply. He came and looked under his grey eyebrows at the rising tiers of young fresh faces, and spoke with his accustomed studied commonness of phrasing. ...
— Tales of Space and Time • Herbert George Wells

... use of his limbs and his weapons and become a perfect master at boxing and cudgel-play, he has had a troublesome life of it ever since. He cannot hear of a quarrel between the most distant of his neighbors but he begins incontinently to fumble with the head of his cudgel, and consider whether his interest or honor does not require that he should meddle in the broil. Indeed, he has extended his relations of pride and policy so completely over the ...
— The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. • Washington Irving

... giant in physical strength compared with the slightly built foreigner, he could have overpowered him as a child might crush an egg-shell, but he lacked the mentality, the magnetism of the Italian. He was cowed, dominated by the stronger mind. Grumbling, he began to fumble ...
— The Mask - A Story of Love and Adventure • Arthur Hornblow

... fingers shaking so that it was with great difficulty that she managed the bag's clasp, she opened the receptacle, and, with accelerating nervousness which made her feel and fumble, took from it a small box—a jeweler's box. Slowly she returned to him, her feet dragging as if weighted; slowly, as she stood before him, drooping, frightened, she took off the cover of the little box, her heart hammering till it seemed ...
— The Old Flute-Player - A Romance of To-day • Edward Marshall and Charles T. Dazey

... "Then—then—then—" The visitor fumble with nerveless fingers, at his tightly buttoned cut-away coat. It resisted his efforts. Suddenly, with a snarl of exasperation, he dragged violently at the lapel, tearing the button outright from the cloth. "Look what I have done," he said, staring stupidly for a moment at the button ...
— Average Jones • Samuel Hopkins Adams

... 'em, but let her in there under ninety pounds and Fieldmouse is a cinch. That little sleight-of-hand stunt between Murphy and your nigger is working fine. They not only put it over on the judges, but none of the other owners are wise. I'd try it myself some day if I wasn't afraid somebody would fumble ...
— Old Man Curry - Race Track Stories • Charles E. (Charles Emmett) Van Loan

... only light came from the open trap in the floor above. Something fell softly at his feet; he picked it up. It was a cloth, saturated with chloroform. He flung it from him, and began with a new haste to grope and fumble for his pistol. ...
— The Penalty • Gouverneur Morris

... rainbow's end, and in the incense That curls about the feet of sleeping gods, And sing with her in canebrakes and in rice fields, In Romany, eternal Romany. We will sow secret herbs, and plant old roses, And fumble through dark, snaky palaces, Stable our ponies in the Taj Mahal, And sleep out-doors ourselves. In her strange fairy mill-wheel eyes will wait All windings and unwindings of the highways, From India, across America,— All windings and unwindings of my fancy, All windings ...
— American Poetry, 1922 - A Miscellany • Edna St. Vincent Millay

... and large seal attached. After the mayor had fulfilled his office so well, General Grant said: "Mr. Mayor, as I knew that this ceremony was to occur, and as I am not used to speaking, I have written something in reply." He then began to fumble in his pockets, first his breast-coat pocket, then his pants, vest; etc., and after considerable delay he pulled out a crumpled piece of common yellow cartridge-paper, which he handed to the mayor. His whole manner was awkward in the extreme, yet perfectly characteristic, and in strong contrast ...
— The Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman, Complete • William T. Sherman

... laid his sandwich upon the shield beside him, and then began to fumble behind him in the band of his cut-down trousers, out of a leopard-skin pocket attached to which he drew a packet of common leather tied up with a slip of ...
— Charge! - A Story of Briton and Boer • George Manville Fenn

... the robbers reached their cave. The bundles were laid in a great circle on the floor, and, at a given signal, they were opened. For a moment each robber gazed blankly at the contents of his bundle, and then they all began to fumble and search among the piles of articles upon the cloths; but after a few minutes, they arose, looking blanker and ...
— The Bee-Man of Orn and Other Fanciful Tales • Frank R. Stockton

... the weakness of the bomb was a blunder on the part of the socialists, just as its premature explosion, caused by Ernest's losing his nerve and dropping it, was a blunder. And to clinch the argument, there were the several Congressmen who testified to having seen Ernest fumble and drop ...
— The Iron Heel • Jack London

... reproduce it all here. The Russian is in pain and thirst, the wounded German hesitates between suspicion and pity, but pity gets the upper hand, and he crawls with his water bottle to the Russian. Later, as he lies helpless, his fears are aroused by seeing the Russian fumble with something in his breast. Is it a revolver? The wounded German, overstrained with suffering, waits in terror, but the Russian dies before his hand can bring out what it sought. When the stretcher bearers come the German asks the leader to look for the revolver which he feared ...
— The Better Germany in War Time - Being some Facts towards Fellowship • Harold Picton

... advantage of weight, but the eleven had not played together as much as had the majority of the Putnam Hall cadets, consequently some of their combination efforts were decidedly ragged. One move resulted in a bad fumble on the part of the left end. The ball was captured by Jack, and he carried it forward fifteen ...
— The Mystery at Putnam Hall - The School Chums' Strange Discovery • Arthur M. Winfield

... staying at home. There was only one hindrance—that I seemed not to know any of the people this brilliant couple had known. I think he wondered extremely, during the term of our intercourse, whom the deuce I DID know. He hadn't a stray sixpence of an idea to fumble for, so we didn't spin it very fine; we confined ourselves to questions of leather and even of liquor- saddlers and breeches-makers and how to get excellent claret cheap- -and matters like "good trains" and the habits of small game. His lore on these last subjects was ...
— Some Short Stories • Henry James

... reminded him that he had better be getting to his seat, and he found that the steward to whom he had given his ticket, a sallow young woman with projecting teeth, was holding it close to her eyes with one hand and using the other to fumble in a leather bag for some glasses which manifestly were not there. He felt sorry for her because she was not beautiful like Ellen Melville. Did she grieve at it, he wondered; or had she, like most plain women, some scrap of comeliness, slender ...
— The Judge • Rebecca West

... them in the face, the Tigers made one last desperate rally and in doing so called repeatedly on Kelly, with the result that with this star carrying the ball in nearly every rush the Princeton eleven carried the ball fifty-five yards up the field only to lose it at last on a fumble to Jim Rodgers. ...
— Football Days - Memories of the Game and of the Men behind the Ball • William H. Edwards

... but got up with a stumble, His rider went sideways, but knew how to tumble, And got up and remounted, though the pain made him humble, And he rode fifty yards and then stopped in a fumble. ...
— Right Royal • John Masefield

... not in Hell: hee's in Arthurs Bosome, if euer man went to Arthurs Bosome: a made a finer end, and went away and it had beene any Christome Childe: a parted eu'n iust betweene Twelue and One, eu'n at the turning o'th' Tyde: for after I saw him fumble with the Sheets, and play with Flowers, and smile vpon his fingers end, I knew there was but one way: for his Nose was as sharpe as a Pen, and a Table of greene fields. How now Sir Iohn (quoth I?) what ...
— The First Folio [35 Plays] • William Shakespeare

... fritter and fumble away our opportunity in needless, senseless quarrels between Democrats and Republicans, or between the House and the Senate, or between the South and North, or between the Congress and the administration, then history will rightfully ...
— State of the Union Addresses of Lyndon B. Johnson • Lyndon B. Johnson

... manner of his capture was dramatic. A real milkman for whom Rizzi had worked in the past was marked out for slaughter. He had been blown up twice already. While he slept his wife heard some one moving in the hall. Looking out through a small window, she saw the ex-employee fumble with something and then turn out the gas on the landing. Her husband, awakened by her exit and return, asked sleepily ...
— Courts and Criminals • Arthur Train

... the lady who had charmed him the other day? Who had spoken of England and conjured up the memories of his own home in the Midlands? With a playful gesture, she sent her hat careering across the street and began to fumble at her breast, unlacing or unbuttoning something. It was horrible, in ...
— South Wind • Norman Douglas

... up and make for me and I make for the door! It was dark, all 'cepting the light from the chimney, and I fumble all up and down the door jamb before I find de latch pin. The old man shorely git me if he hadn't stumble over the eating table and whop his hand right down in de dish of fresh made butter. That make him so mad he jest stand ...
— Slave Narratives, Oklahoma - A Folk History of Slavery in the United States From - Interviews with Former Slaves • Various

... to put my hand into my pocket, and there I found the greater part of a ship's biscuit, which, as I was quitting the cabin, I had mechanically thrust into it. I almost shouted for joy as I found the prize—though it was not much to be divided among four men. The discovery made the rest fumble in their pockets. McTavish had a tobacco-box, which he had only just filled, and Jack found a huge lump of grease, which, though not very savoury, was not to be despised. How it had come there he could not recollect. These treasures, however, we determined ...
— Salt Water - The Sea Life and Adventures of Neil D'Arcy the Midshipman • W. H. G. Kingston

... grasped his arm with one hand, while with the other he seized the lamp. The man cursed, and began to fumble at his belt, as though for a knife, whereon Peter, putting out his strength, twisted his arm so fiercely that in his pain he loosed the lamp, which remained in Peter's hand. The inn-keeper made a grab at it, missed his footing and rolled down the ...
— Fair Margaret • H. Rider Haggard

... sore, physically and mentally. He had been roughly used by two of the Roxley players, and had made a fumble at a critical moment. And all during that heartrending first half Dora had not ...
— The Rover Boys at College • Edward Stratemeyer

... was troubled about the uncertainty of there being at the Corners any repair shop. He knew it was a small settlement. At most, the repair garage would be very small, and perhaps the mechanic a mere country "jack-of-all-trades," who would fumble the job. ...
— Ruth Fielding and the Gypsies - The Missing Pearl Necklace • Alice B. Emerson

... war and martial discipline have lent them its standards. Once in a generation a mysterious wish for war passes through the people. Their instinct tells them that there is no other way of progress and of escape from habits that no longer fit them. Whole generations of statesmen will fumble over reforms for a lifetime which are put into full-blooded execution within a week of a declaration of war. There is no other way. Only by intense sufferings can the nations grow, just as the snake once a year must with anguish slough off the once beautiful ...
— Gallipoli Diary, Volume I • Ian Hamilton

... expediting business, they were proceeding on the spot to put some preliminary questions; asking him, peradventure, whether he pleaded guilty or not guilty; considering him something in the light of a culprit at the bar; when they were brought to a pause by seeing him lay down his pipe and begin to fumble with his walking-staff. For a moment those present would not have given half a crown for both the crowns of the commissioners; but Peter Stuyvesant repressed his mighty wrath and stayed his hand; he scanned the varlets from head to foot, satchels and all, with a look of ineffable ...
— Knickerbocker's History of New York, Complete • Washington Irving

... be mighty anxious as the game goes along, believe me," asserted Steve, as they arose to leave the vicinity of the bench. "I'll be skimpy with my throws to third to catch a runner napping, for fear Fred might make out to fumble and get the ball home just too late to nab the runner. And, Jack, try your level best to convince Fred that the eyes of all Chester will be on him during that game, with his best girl, pretty Molly Skinner, occupying a front seat in ...
— Jack Winters' Baseball Team - Or, The Rivals of the Diamond • Mark Overton

... did he do now but fumble in a pocket of his oily dungarees and produce a slab of his favorite brand, Perk thrusting it into his mouth and savagely rolling it between his teeth, really believed this helped his brain to ...
— Eagles of the Sky - With Jack Ralston Along the Air Lanes • Ambrose Newcomb

... out of the road, and there, sure enough, was the oak itself. Kneeling down, he slipped off his burden and pushed it through a jagged hole at the root. Then he glanced round him, a long, stealthy look, down at the earth and up at the sky, and crept into the tree. In the dimness I could see him fumble for the thing he wanted, pause to thumb its edge, and, throwing up his chin, ...
— The Broad Highway • Jeffery Farnol

... the tramp slowly. He put his hands under his loose-hanging overcoat and began to fumble at a leather strap about his waist. "If I turn you over to the Government I know wot you'll be worth, purty near, by guessin' at the reward; an' besides, it'll maybe help to square me up fur one or two little matters. If I turn you loose I ain't got nothin' only ...
— The Escape of Mr. Trimm - His Plight and other Plights • Irvin S. Cobb

... disused farm-kitchen, holding the little wooden box carefully in both his dogskin-gloved hands. He crossed to the hearth, stubbing his toe against a jutting floor-brick, and as he did so he caught his breath. Then he stepped down under the yawning gape of the chimney, and seemed to grope and fumble at the back of the hearth. He raised himself then, stepped back, and called out sharply ...
— The Dop Doctor • Clotilde Inez Mary Graves

... his old trick. At the ball he will frown, And fumble the bat as though funk, or don't care, Filled his soul; but when slogging's the game he's all there. Mere posing, not playing the game,—yet he scores! I wonder how WILL likes the ring's frantic roars ...
— Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 102, June 11, 1892 • Various

... room to grumble! Hadst thou taen aff some drowsy bummle, [drone] Wha can do nought but fyke an' fumble, [fuss] 'Twad been nae plea; [grievance] But he was gleg as ony wumble, [lively, ...
— Robert Burns - How To Know Him • William Allan Neilson

... boy it seemed as if the deacon must have been waiting for ten minutes at the least, and in a great flurry he began to fumble for his handkerchief. What had he done with it? Oh, there it was at last, way down in the depths of his right ...
— Good Cheer Stories Every Child Should Know • Various

... the palace on my errand! No, no! I have a handsome dress packed up— White satin here, to set off my black hair; 105 In I shall march—for you may watch your life out Behind thick walls, make friends there to betray you; More than one man spoils everything. March straight— Only, no clumsy knife to fumble for. Take the great gate, and walk (not saunter) on 110 Through guards and guards—I have rehearsed it all Inside the turret here a hundred times Don't ask the way of whom you meet, observe! But where they cluster ...
— Selections from the Poems and Plays of Robert Browning • Robert Browning

... which lay on the table in front of him and unfolded it. He glanced at it and then put it down and began to fumble in his pocket. ...
— General John Regan - 1913 • George A. Birmingham

... moment of normal conditions was gone. The baffled, confused eyes closed; the thin hands began to fumble piteously about the covers; the pale lips resumed their rapid motion, while from between them flowed the old, swift stream of ...
— Judith of the Cumberlands • Alice MacGowan

... shall. I need you at this moment More even than when my toothless gums did fumble About thy breast ...
— Nero • Stephen Phillips

... and began to fumble in her pocket. "The principle is the same whether it is Gale or Dale or Tompkins. I never expected to learn of my niece's engagement from the public press. I am confident the notice said 'Gale.' Ah! I thought so. Plain as the nose on your face," she added, producing from her porte-monnaie ...
— A Romantic Young Lady • Robert Grant

... educated, who in moments of strong feeling could not strike out a poetical thought, and afterwards polish it so as to be presentable. But men of sense know better than so to waste their time; and those who sincerely love poetry, know the touch of the master's hand on the chords too well to fumble among them after him. Nay, more than this, all inferior poetry is an injury to the good, inasmuch as it takes away the freshness of rhymes, blunders upon and gives a wretched commonalty to good thoughts; and, in general, adds to the weight of human weariness in a most woful and culpable ...
— Selections From the Works of John Ruskin • John Ruskin

... the mantelpiece and began to fumble for the switch; in the silence his nails scratching at the panelling made a sound like to that of a gnawing mouse. He found it at last, and next instant the office broke into a blaze of light, showing Mr. Haswell, his rubicund face quite ...
— The Yellow God - An Idol of Africa • H. Rider Haggard

... in to begin!" and see and hear BALFE'S pretty little Girl of Bohemia while she is still visible and audible at Drury Lane. Mr. EADIE a trifle gawky as Thaddeus, but then he finds himself in an awkward situation, especially when he has to fumble for the documentary evidence of his birth, attested at a Bohemian Registry Office. CARL ARMBRUSTER conducted this, and then up got Herr FELD "with his little lot," represented by the unrivalled and unequalled Cavalleria Rusticana. Ah! Cavalleria is a treat, even when its performance is not ...
— Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 104, April 15, 1893 • Various

... seemed to fumble among his papers, without even looking at the prospective juror. Then he drew out the print which Kennedy had made. Quietly, without letting anyone else see it, he deliberately walked to Kahn's table and showed it to the lawyer, without a word, ...
— The Ear in the Wall • Arthur B. Reeve

... the reading of the next dispatch. "Alden's ball on a fumble. Steadily forcing Winthrop line back by superior weight. Ball ...
— Winning His "W" - A Story of Freshman Year at College • Everett Titsworth Tomlinson

... keeping his eyes on the Easterners, and his weapon steady. He had hung the wire coil over his shoulder, leaving his left hand free to fumble for and untie the cords around Naomi's wrists. He got ...
— When the Sleepers Woke • Arthur Leo Zagat

... about him, he crossed to the open coffin and began to fumble amongst the putrefying mass of bones and webbing which lay therein. Out from this he presently drew ...
— Tales of Chinatown • Sax Rohmer

... maimed hand, There may be venging weapon within reach! Feel with both hands—with both huge arms go stretch Along the black wall of thy cellar. Nay, There may be some odd thing hidden away? Who knows—there may! Those great hands might so come In course of ghastly fumble through the gloom, Upon a sword—a sword! The hands once clasp Its hilt, must wield it ...
— Poems • Victor Hugo

... from a pair of violet eyes and a pair of the most mysterious gray, I began to fumble in my pockets for the ...
— American Adventures - A Second Trip 'Abroad at home' • Julian Street

... and into that bath, and then she filled a sponge with cold water and trickled it on him, until he threatened to jump out and give her a cold douche. Then, panting with her exertions and dry now, she collapsed on the chair and began to fumble with her hair and its solitary rose. It was exactly Julie who sat there unashamed in her nakedness, Peter thought. She had kept the soul of a child through everything, and it could burst through the outer covering of the woman ...
— Simon Called Peter • Robert Keable

... physician approached her simultaneously. At the same time, the two assistants began to fumble among their ...
— Notre-Dame de Paris - The Hunchback of Notre Dame • Victor Hugo

... his haughty glance the characteristic outlines of that catastrophe of human genius in conflict with divine chance. All the other historians suffer from being somewhat dazzled, and in this dazzled state they fumble about. It was a day of lightning brilliancy; in fact, a crumbling of the military monarchy which, to the vast stupefaction of kings, drew all the kingdoms after it—the fall of force, the ...
— Les Miserables - Complete in Five Volumes • Victor Hugo

... lay snugly inserted between the leaves of the Bible. The tramp who lay on the floor, as yet too surprised to attempt to rise, rolled over and seized the book as a football player seizes the pigskin after a fumble, covering it with his body, his arms, and sticking out his elbows as a further ...
— The Mucker • Edgar Rice Burroughs

... a halt outside the building, and we all climbed down. I lighted a cigarette, and I noticed two of the other men fumble for matches for the same purpose. We wanted something to steady our nerves. There was never a moment when shell fire was not bursting in that square. Shrapnel bullets whipped the stones. The Germans were making a target of the Town Hall and dropping their shells with dreadful exactitude on either ...
— The New York Times Current History of the European War, Vol 1, Issue 4, January 23, 1915 • Various

... the four others down the brae, stepped softly into the room. M'Iver was in a high perplexity. He dare not shake the woman's hand, and still he dare not hurt her feelings. "My thong's loose," said he, stooping to fumble with a brogue that needed no such attention. He rose with ...
— John Splendid - The Tale of a Poor Gentleman, and the Little Wars of Lorn • Neil Munro

... little piece of wood out of his pocket, also a steel nail, and with the latter tapped several times upon the bit of veneering. Immediately they saw the sitting boy begin to fumble, as though he might be getting something out of his pocket. Then came an answering series of staccato ...
— The Banner Boy Scouts on a Tour - The Mystery of Rattlesnake Mountain • George A. Warren

... in the locker there," and the captain turned around, and began to fumble with his hands for the latch of the little door. ...
— Rod of the Lone Patrol • H. A. Cody

... passages between herself and two men,—an interval of a year between each,—and there had also been a kiss in an alcove designed by her dearest friend, Ella Linton, for the undoing of mankind, a place of softened lights and shadowy palms. It was her recollection of these incidents that had caused her to fumble with the blind cord when her father had been suggesting to her the disadvantages of inexperience in matters of the heart. But the incidents had led to nothing, except, perhaps, a week or two of remorse. But ...
— Phyllis of Philistia • Frank Frankfort Moore

... brunette of a man, lean-cheeked, thin-lipped, and strong. The smooth-shaven face was a healthy sallow. All his movements were quick and precise. He did not fumble his cards. The eyes were black, direct, and piercing, with the trick of seeming to look beneath the surfaces of things. His hands, slender, fine and nervous, appeared made for delicate work, and to the most casual eye they conveyed an ...
— The Turtles of Tasman • Jack London

... one, when she heard the click of the gate. Slowly, heavily, ominously, she heard him come up the steps and fumble with his key at the door. He entered the bedroom, and she heard him sigh as he sat down. She remained quiet, for she had learned the hypersensitiveness induced by drink and was fastidiously careful not to hurt him even with the knowledge that she had lain awake for him. It was not easy. Her hands ...
— The Valley of the Moon • Jack London

... herself little like me—lies down altogether and I go wild with delight at the sight of her face under mine, thrown back in her fragrant hair. My feelings overflow, I can't resist such a chance for a jolly good game. I rummage and fumble about, excitedly poking my nose everywhere, till I find the crispy tip of a pink ear—Her ear. I nibble it just enough to tickle her—to make her cry out: "Stop, Toby! That's awful! Help! Help! ...
— Barks and Purrs • Colette Willy, aka Colette

... Brainey, or whatever name I might choose, and wait for my first customer. My first customer is a middle-aged man. I look at him,—ask him a question or two, so as to hear him talk. When I have got the hang of him, I ask him to sit down, and proceed to fumble his skull, dictating ...
— The Atlantic Monthly, Vol. IV, No. 22, Aug., 1859 • Various

... were calmly feeding upon some of the trees and bushes in the neighbourhood when he got them. That they felt the pangs of thirst there can be no doubt—and what animal can suffer thirst like a camel?—as whenever they were brought to the camp they endeavoured to fumble about the empty water-bags, tin pannikins, and any other vessel ...
— Australia Twice Traversed, The Romance of Exploration • Ernest Giles

... floor wavered suddenly, the door opened, was locked again, and with a quick, catlike step a man moved along the side of the wall where the shadows lay thickest near the door, dropped on his knees, and began to fumble hurriedly with the base-board of the wall, pausing at every ...
— The Further Adventures of Jimmie Dale • Frank L. Packard

... through the homely scenes of the outskirts, that black fringe which makes an unlovely border to the city, Choulette took from his pocket an old book which he began to fumble. The writer, hidden under the vagabond, revealed himself. Choulette, without wishing to appear to be careful of his papers, was very orderly about them. He assured himself that he had not lost the pieces of paper on which he noted at the coffeehouse his ...
— The Red Lily, Complete • Anatole France

... fortnight ago was as great a hero as if he had been born in Thames Street, is kept in check by Monsieur de Contades, and there are some little apprehensions that our Blues, etc., will not be able to join him. Cherbourg will set all to rights; the King of Prussia may fumble as much as he pleases, and though the French should not be frightened out of their senses at the loss of this town, we shall be fully persuaded they are, and not a gallon less of punch will be drunk from ...
— The Letters of Horace Walpole, Volume 2 • Horace Walpole

... as Robin, understanding, began to fumble with his breast. And, as he drew out the pyx, and placed it on the handkerchief (in reality a corporal), apparently so carelessly laid by the crucifix, Mary sank down in ...
— Come Rack! Come Rope! • Robert Hugh Benson

... all these preliminaries were satisfactorily accomplished, the young teacher seated herself at the table, and began, to fumble nervously among the books which she had brought to use. There was a little story-book that Walter and she used to like long ago, in which she thought would be nice to read to them, and her mother's Bible, in which she had been searching all the morning ...
— Geordie's Tryst - A Tale of Scottish Life • Mrs. Milne Rae

... was now her only one. Aunt Emily's clear vision might, indeed, be said to have found the way through a tangle of poignant conditions in which her own poor heart had been able to do nothing but fumble helplessly. ...
— The Letter of the Contract • Basil King

... which our narrative commenced. Sir Robert seemed as if the weight of a hundred years had been pressed upon his brow; indeed, Time could not have so altered any man. It was not the deed of Time that made the eye vigilant, even in its dimness—the hand, though trembling almost to palsy, fumble with the sword-handle—that racked the poor, withering, and shrinking brain, within its multiplied cabinets, by a thousand terrors—such was not the work of Time. How different was his, from the hoary, but holy age, that ushers an ...
— The Buccaneer - A Tale • Mrs. S. C. Hall

... as rude a surprise as the lunch. He watched the woman fumble over lighting the fire in the stove until he ...
— The Man in Gray • Thomas Dixon

... the first baseman the pitcher should cover the base, and if the hit is slow or if the baseman fumbles it he may still have time to toss the ball to the pitcher. The pitcher should not wait until he sees the fumble before starting, but the instant the hit is made go for the base; he will then be there and ready to receive the ball and not be forced to take it on the run. So, too, the occasion may arise when he should cover second or third, where ...
— Base-Ball - How to Become a Player • John M. Ward

... and, in case things should happen, pointed its nose homewards. That is always a wise precaution, for turning a car under fire in a narrow road is one of the most trying experiences imaginable. The coolest hand may fumble with the gears at such a moment, and it is surprising how difficult it is to work them neatly when every second may be a matter of life or death, when a stopped engine may settle the fate of everyone in the car. It is foolish to take unnecessary risks, and we left the car pointing the right way, ...
— A Surgeon in Belgium • Henry Sessions Souttar

... aggravating, as to be told that you are a "mix-muddle"? A person who mixes up his commissions may feel a little abashed. A person who muddles his affairs may not be altogether proud of his achievements. But to be a mix-muddle, to both mix and muddle, to morally fumble without tact, and display a totally imbecile wandering; I shall get mixed myself if I try to describe such a state. Mixed in this sense is American too. Take a duster, dexterously swing it, and remove a fleck of dust from a table or books, and you will understand the verb to "flirk," which ...
— The Life of the Fields • Richard Jefferies

... Mr. Brown should sign the paper, and finally began to fumble in his pistol pocket, whereupon it passed through Mr. Brown's mind "that the little wretch might be meaning to shoot me." As he got the pistol out, Mr. Brown seized his wrist and turned his hand ...
— George Brown • John Lewis

... sense to stop; again and again he flung his insults at the infuriated Sheeley, impatiently fighting off the efforts of his companion who sought to part them. Suddenly Chick saw him step back, while the others were grappling, and fumble in his rear pocket. He saw him steady himself against the door jamb, not four feet away, and raise a pistol. There was a sharp report, a smothered ...
— A Romance of Billy-Goat Hill • Alice Hegan Rice

... along the sill. They fumble on the wall. They stretch to reach the gun which stands beside the clock. Another inch and they will grasp it and Red Joe will be saved. The arm rubs against the pendulum of the clock. It swings and the clock starts to tick. And still ...
— Wappin' Wharf - A Frightful Comedy of Pirates • Charles S. Brooks

... revolver, but Saunders was too quick for him. With a sudden blow he knocked the weapon from the other's grasp. It spun and flashed in the moonlight and fell in the weeds several yards away. Then Drake began to fumble in the pocket of his trousers for his knife. But again the younger man got the advantage. With the bound of a panther he had embraced and pinioned the arms of his antagonist to his sides. Back and forth they swung and pounded, Drake swearing, spitting, ...
— The Desired Woman • Will N. Harben

... come to sense, But fumble in a greasy till And add the halfpence to the pence And prayer to shivering prayer, until You have dried the marrow from the bone; For men were born to pray and save, Romantic Ireland's dead and gone, It's with O'Leary in ...
— The Advance of English Poetry in the Twentieth Century • William Lyon Phelps

... I cried, leaning over the table and making a fumble, as if I would take her hand—"what have I done? I have ...
— The Jucklins - A Novel • Opie Read

... peach pie, sugar-coated, fragrant and savory—and placed it on the serving-table near the open window. There was a bit, of wire loose at the lower end of the screen, and, in the one second Marguerite's back was turned—just one second, but just long enough—Missy saw a velvety nose fumble with the loose wire, saw a sleek neck wedge itself through the crevice, and a long red tongue lap approvingly over the ...
— Missy • Dana Gatlin

... wilderness, that I could seem rather to have discovered the track of the Dinosaur in prehistoric clays than the highway, of a little village that only five years ago was full of human faults and joys and songs and tiny tears. Down that road before the plans, of the Kaiser began to fumble with the earth, down that road—but it is useless to look back, we are too far away from five years ago, too far away from thousands of ordinary things, that never seemed as though they would ever peer at us over chasms of time, out of another age, utterly far off, irrevocably removed from ...
— Unhappy Far-Off Things • Lord Dunsany

... with both hands extended: "I wish you luck," he said, softly. "I cared for you a mighty lot, Miss Alice, but I'm a good loser. I reckon, maybe it's better things worked out the way they did." Endicott pressed the outstretched hand with a mighty grip and turned swiftly away to fumble at his latigo strap. And there were tears in the girl's eyes as her fingers lingered for a moment in the Texan's ...
— The Texan - A Story of the Cattle Country • James B. Hendryx

... counter-revolution have the bourgeois state generally on their side and enjoy the backing of the bourgeois establishment, its organizations and its facilities. Since their object is defense, they have no constructive program. Instead they stumble, fumble and bungle as their system flounders into one disastrous ...
— Civilization and Beyond - Learning From History • Scott Nearing

... established. No doubt the corner is marked out as a part of the "sphere of influence" of anthropology, but there is not the slightest indication of an effective occupation among these raiding considerations and uncertain facts. Until anthropology produces her Daltons and Davys we must fumble in this corner, just as the old alchemists fumbled for centuries before the dawn of chemistry. Our utmost practice here must be empirical. We do not know the elements of what we have, the human characteristics we are working upon to get that end. The sentimentalized affinities of young persons ...
— Mankind in the Making • H. G. Wells

... one of a seal on shore. The eyes being of small use, he must touch with his hands. Those hands are the most distinctive feature of his person; they are full of expression; tenderly groping hands, that hesitate and fumble in wistful fashion like the feelers of some sensitive creature of night. There is trouble, too, in that obese and sluggish body; trouble to which the unhealthy complexion testifies. He may drink only milk, because wine, which he dearly loves—"and such good ...
— Alone • Norman Douglas

... . . . Ha! at last my garret. Fumble at the latch, Close the door and bar it. Bed, you graciously Wait, despite my scorning . . . So, bibaciously Mad old world, ...
— Ballads of a Bohemian • Robert W. Service

... seems stupid Beyond all expression to have a "possession" whose "ownness" there's desperate doubt of, And which (if she's nous) you can't keep in your house, nor yet (if she's "savvy") keep out of! What is "Hymen's halter"? I fidget and falter! The Beaks seem to palter and fumble. In such a strange fashion, I fly in a passion, and vow that the world is a jumble. Law seems a wigged noodle, as tame as a poodle, the whole darned caboodle (as 'ARRY sees) Is ructions and "rot," and our "rulers" a lot of confounded old foodles and Pharisees! ...
— Punch, Or The London Charivari, Vol. 100, May 23, 1891 • Various

... the captain, rising. "Ye see," he said, apologetically, "we got to talking o' Roger and ole times, and I got a little out o' my course. It's a matter of—" he began to fumble in his pockets, and finally produced a small memorandum-book, which he glanced over—"it's a ...
— Drift from Two Shores • Bret Harte

... until the second found itself only a few yards from its goal line. There, with the backs pressed close against the forwards, the second held and secured the ball on downs, only to lose it again by a fumble on the part of Post. Then a delayed pass gained two yards for the first and a mass at left tackle found another. But the next play resulted disastrously, for when the ball was passed back there was no one to take it, and the quarter was borne back several yards before his own astounded players could ...
— The Half-Back • Ralph Henry Barbour

... open the door Janice noticed that he seemed to fumble the key greatly, and he kept his ...
— Janice Day at Poketown • Helen Beecher Long

... on the outer station platform, near the entrance to third-class waiting-rooms. Continuing to fumble through his pockets for an elusive sovereign purse, he looked up mildly ...
— The Black Bag • Louis Joseph Vance

... "The way I hear it, your whole department has given up, so I'm assigned to help you out of your usual fumble-fingered confusion." ...
— Status Quo • Dallas McCord Reynolds

... mumbled away. He listened to her with the composure of a brave man. The memories that were being called up before him brought no shadow to his unruffled face. Only it occurred to him that the pertinacity of the old beggar was annoying Helene, and so he hastened to fumble in his pocket, in his turn giving her some alms, and at the same time waving her away. The moment her eyes rested on another silver coin Mother Fetu burst into loud thanks. She would buy some wood at once; she would be able to warm her afflicted body—that was the only thing now to give her ...
— A Love Episode • Emile Zola

... had recovered his confusion; and from a certain flutter in Sybrandt, and hard breathing of Cornelis, aided by an indescribable consciousness, felt sure the pair he had to deal with were no heroes. He pretended to fumble for his money: then suddenly thrust his staff fiercely into Sybrandt's face, and drove him staggering, and lent Cornelis a back-handed slash on the ear that sent him twirling like a weathercock in March; then whirled his weapon over his head and danced ...
— The Cloister and the Hearth • Charles Reade

... knack," said Mr. Tredgold, meeting her gaze with great calmness. "It's extraordinary what a lot of character there is in locks; they let some people open them without any trouble, while others may fumble at them ...
— Dialstone Lane, Complete • W.W. Jacobs

... to fumble in his pocket, as if in search of something. Having found it, he continued, "Marster got hold of her hand and grabbed off her wedding ring so quick that it broke her finger. Then he threw it from him and I picked it up. Here 'tis," said he, holding ...
— Tempest and Sunshine • Mary J. Holmes

... tramp of men coming to the door, and heard them begin to fumble with the pad-lock, and heard a ...
— Innocents abroad • Mark Twain

... thirty and the other for forty-five yards. Got a touchdown the second time. I wouldn't have, though, if Steve hadn't paced me most the way down and put the quarter out. Old Steve played like a whirlwind today. We all did, I guess. There was only one fumble, and that wasn't anyone's fault. Holt got a forward pass and a Miter Hill chap plunged into him and just about knocked the breath out of him and he let go of ...
— Left Guard Gilbert • Ralph Henry Barbour

... frantically trying to remove his diving helmet again. Excitement made his motions ineffective, and he signaled for Farmer to help him, then continued to fumble with the fastenings himself. John Andrew turned, feeling completely doomed, to aid the man, and they started getting in each other's way and slowing down ...
— Stairway to the Stars • Larry Shaw

... run—"Honoured Sirs! This is the Banto[u] San of the Shimaya of Honjo[u] Itcho[u]me. He is collecting the house bills. Deign not to disturb him."—"Shut up!" was the reply of the leader. "Another fellow of the same kidney. Look to him." Roughly he thrust his hand into Zensuke's bosom and began to hustle and fumble the clerk. When Jugoro[u] would interfere the two other men prevented him. With fright he saw the money belt of the banto[u] dangling from the man's hand. The nature of the affair was plain. "Heigh! Jokes don't go, honoured ...
— The Yotsuya Kwaidan or O'Iwa Inari - Tales of the Tokugawa, Volume 1 (of 2) • James S. De Benneville

... "Here's a rotten story." Yet it must be that he found pleasure in playing the whole scale, in hopping from the G-string to the E-, in surprising his public each day with a new whim or a recently discovered broken image. I suspect, anyhow, that he delighted in making his editor stare and fumble in the ...
— A Thousand and One Afternoons in Chicago • Ben Hecht

... He felt in his own pockets, however, first for a cigarette and then for a match. He was indeed tired, so tired that he no longer remembered which pocket to fumble in or what he held in his hand as he fumbled. Ah, that sacred tank! Then he suddenly smiled again, looking at Magin. "There is something ...
— The Best Short Stories of 1917 - and the Yearbook of the American Short Story • Various

... opposite each other on the table rock, and, feeling like another Sindbad the Sailor, I watched my new friend fumble in his bag and lay out at his side all sorts of odds and ends of string, fish-hooks, chewing-gum, material for making a fire, and so on, until at last he came to a package (done up, I noted with delight, in a broad, green ...
— Gulliver of Mars • Edwin L. Arnold

... is. He p'omised to git me a job up hyeah, an' I got yo' lettah—" here Silas, who had set his bundle on the floor in coming into the Presence, began to fumble in his pockets for the letter. He searched long in vain, because his hands trembled, and he was nervous under the eyes of this great personage who stood unmoved and looked ...
— The Strength of Gideon and Other Stories • Paul Laurence Dunbar

... and shuffled his feet uneasily, but this hint for haste was utterly wasted upon Old Jerry. The latter failed completely to note the strained intensity of the face that was upturned before him and went on grumbling as he leaned over to fumble in the box beneath the seat. And the tirade continued in an unbroken, half-muffled stream until he straightened laboriously again, the boy's usual weekly packet of papers and catalogues in ...
— Once to Every Man • Larry Evans

... time. But it wasn't. Because, when I had posted my letter to Jukie, and sat alone in my room, smoking and thinking, at last with leisure to open my mind to all the impressions and implications of the day (I haven't time for this in the laboratory), I began to fumble for and find a new clue to Arthur's recent oddness. For twenty-four hours I had believed that he had perhaps killed Oliver Hobart. Now, suddenly I didn't. But I was clear that there was something about Oliver Hobart's death which concerned ...
— Potterism - A Tragi-Farcical Tract • Rose Macaulay

... is the centrepiece to the whole of this battle. As soon as we had won it I telegraphed to the Morning Post that now at last success was a distinct possibility. With this important feature in our possession it was certain that we held the key to Ladysmith, and though we might fumble a little with the lock, sooner or later, barring the accidents of war, ...
— London to Ladysmith via Pretoria • Winston Spencer Churchill

... hundred paces of the top and the finger-post. She cried out wildly that she did not understand. 'What is it you—you—have just said?' she murmured. 'I cannot hear.' And she began to fumble with the ribbon of ...
— Under the Red Robe • Stanley Weyman

... 'She's a Daisy, She's a Dumpling.' I borrowed it and put it in Pa's pistol pocket, where he keeps his tobacco box, and when the choir got most through singing Pa reached his hand in his pocket and began to fumble around for a chew. He touched the spring, and just as everybody bowed their heads to receive the benediction, and it was so still you could hear a gum drop, the music box began to play, and in the stillness it sounded as loud as a church organ. Well, ...
— Peck's Bad Boy and His Pa - 1883 • George W. Peck

... his head aside a moment, and apparently found it needful to fumble at the fastenings of the furs, while there was a curious expression in his eyes when he looked ...
— Winston of the Prairie • Harold Bindloss

... "you're afraid to kiss me because you don't know how, and I'm afraid to let you because I don't know how, and so we're talking away a golden opportunity to find out. James," she said seriously, "if you fumble a bit, I won't know the difference because I'm no smarter than ...
— The Fourth R • George Oliver Smith

... often better than the Government's, presided over its destinies, and helped to stuff the old-fashioned vault with wads of gilt-edged securities—millions in value if you did but know it—and making it what it is to-day. If you don't believe the first part of my statement, you've only to fumble among the heap of dusty ledgers piled on top of the dusty shelves; and if you doubt the latter part, then try to buy some of the stock and see what you have to pay for it. Although the gas was ...
— Peter - A Novel of Which He is Not the Hero • F. Hopkinson Smith

... Baldwin and Crane were both on their mettle and the fielding being of the sharpest kind safe hits were few and far between. Up to the ninth inning Chicago led by two runs, but here Earle's three-bagger, Hanlon's base on balls, Burns' fumble of Brown's hit and Carroll's double settled our chances, the All-Americas winning by a ...
— A Ball Player's Career - Being the Personal Experiences and Reminiscensces of Adrian C. Anson • Adrian C. Anson

... of striped pattern. Behind the britchka stood a second, but an empty, turn-out, drawn by four long-coated steeds in ragged collars and rope harnesses. The flaxen-haired man lost no time in ascending the staircase, while his darker friend remained below to fumble at something in the britchka, talking, as he did so, to the driver of the vehicle which stood hitched behind. Somehow, the dark-haired man's voice struck Chichikov as familiar; and as he was taking another look at ...
— Dead Souls • Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol

... Then he began to fumble and search through the pages of his book until he found what he wanted. "Mister," he said, "jest read ...
— In Search of the Unknown • Robert W. Chambers

... on the ground, hold his tail in his mouth, and fumble head over heels, or roll over and over, or spin round and round—just for fun! In fact, the black bear is among the few grown-up animals that love to play. Many young animals of course, such as kittens, puppy dogs, calves, and many others, love to play. ...
— The Wonders of the Jungle - Book One • Prince Sarath Ghosh

... now; a pale, plain child, with sharp, intelligent eyes, and a busy little mind, that did a good deal more thinking than anybody imagined. She was just at the unattractive, fidgety age when no one knew what to do with her, and so let her fumble her way up as she could, finding pleasure in odd things, and living much alone, for she did not go to school, because her shoulders were growing round, and Mrs. Shaw would not "allow her figure to be spoiled." That suited Maud excellently; and whenever her father spoke of ...
— An Old-fashioned Girl • Louisa May Alcott

... Jackson began to fumble with weak and trembling hands about his throat, to undo his shirt-collar,—he would not let me help him,—and presently, flushed and panting from the effort, he drew out a length of delicate Panama chain fastened rudely ...
— Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 1, No. 5, March, 1858 • Various

... even to himself, but that answer sounded a lot more probable. Machine technicians weren't exactly picked off the streets at random; they were highly trained for their work, and the idea of a whole crew of them starting to fumble at once, in a big way, was a little hard ...
— Supermind • Gordon Randall Garrett

... could fumble in his pockets with much discretion, and could always find his latch-key, for its shape was odd, but with that latch-key he could not find the keyhole in the door. There came a clamor always at the end. ...
— The Wolf's Long Howl • Stanley Waterloo

... ate an apple, and was having a beautiful time, and thinking how lucky I was to have got board in such a place with such nice folks, when I heard a queer little sound at my door. It was such a little hesitating sort of sound that it sounded more like a fumble than a knock, as if some one very timid, with very little hands, was feeling along the door, not quite daring to knock. For a minute I thought it was a mouse. But I waited and it came again, and then I made up my mind it was a knock, but a very little scared ...
— The Wind in the Rose-bush and Other Stories of the Supernatural • Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman

... and continued to fumble among the clothing it contained. All at once he called out and raised his hand. On the forefinger a tiny ...
— The Abandoned Room • Wadsworth Camp

... Arthur's bosom,[18] if ever man went to Arthur's bosom. 'A made a finer end,[19] and went away, an it had been any christom child;[20] 'a parted even just between twelve and one, e'en at turning o' the tide:[21] for after I saw him fumble with the sheets,[22] and play with flowers, and smile upon his fingers' ends, I knew there was but one way; for his nose was as sharp as a pen, and a' babbled of green fields. How now, Sir John! quoth I: what, man! be of good cheer. So a' cried out—Heaven, Heaven, ...
— King Henry the Fifth - Arranged for Representation at the Princess's Theatre • William Shakespeare

... make a nice fumble, wouldn't we, if we didn't wear the uniform? What would it be—a month in the brig ...
— Navy Boys Behind the Big Guns - Sinking the German U-Boats • Halsey Davidson

... harmoniously, until the bobbing cavalier would lose his balance and tug at the reins; then the horse, which had a soft mouth, would turn sideways or stand still; the rider would then smack his lips, and if this had no effect he would fumble for the whip. The horse, guessing what was required, would start again, shaking him up and down until he looked like a ...
— Selected Polish Tales • Various

... pressman, does the inking and printing, and in the process has actually learned his tardy letters. As to the distributing and cleaning of the type, I find a little assistance is gratefully accepted, even by patient Richard, whose dear little pointed fingers by this time have become tired, and fumble. ...
— People of the Whirlpool • Mabel Osgood Wright

... at church dressed like a lady of the Court, and attended by her sisters and their governess, as if she had never appeared unattended in her life, and prayed, good Lord, with such a majestic seriousness, and listened to the sermon with such a face as made the parson forget his text and fumble about for his notes in dire confusion. 'Twas thought she might be going to play some trick to cause him to break down in the midst of his discourse. But she did not, and sailed out of church as if she had never missed a sermon since ...
— His Grace of Osmonde • Frances Hodgson Burnett



Words linked to "Fumble" :   boner, boo-boo, seek, baseball, American football game, play, fuckup, go wrong, pratfall, bloomer, go through, blooper, pass, palm, look for, miscarry, handle, fail, foul-up, baseball game, search, go across, American football



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