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Fumbling   /fˈəmbəlɪŋ/  /fˈəmblɪŋ/   Listen
Fumbling

adjective
1.
Showing lack of skill or aptitude.  Synonyms: bungling, clumsy, incompetent.  "Did a clumsy job" , "His fumbling attempt to put up a shelf"






WordNet 3.0 © 2010 Princeton University








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"Fumbling" Quotes from Famous Books



... There came a fumbling at the handle, and a moment later the door opened, and revealed, as she had at once known and feared it ...
— The Lodger • Marie Belloc Lowndes

... thought you ought to be taken down a peg. I knew I was a squaw, but I wanted to see if I were not like other women, after all, and if you were not like other men." She was talking rapidly now, almost shrilly, for she had never attempted to act before, while he stood dazed and speechless, fumbling at his throat while she railed at him. "You needn't waste time debating whether I'm good enough for you, because I'm not—decidedly, I'm not your kind, and you are a joke ...
— The Barrier • Rex Beach

... over the Very Young Man as he recognized the face of Targo. And then his heart seemed to stop beating. For as he stared, fascinated, into the man's mocking eyes, he saw that slowly, steadily he was growing larger. Mechanically the Very Young Man's hand went to his armpit, his fingers fumbling at the pouch strapped underneath. The vial ...
— The Girl in the Golden Atom • Raymond King Cummings

... little delay in the cloakroom while the attendant searched for Philip's hat, which had been temporarily misplaced. Honeybrook, who had followed the two men out of the room, fumbling for a moment in his locker and, coming over to Philip, dropped something ...
— The Cinema Murder • E. Phillips Oppenheim

... bottom. He lay prone for a moment before he rose and made his way with evident effort toward the sphere. He entered the compartment and with a heroic effort lifted the outer door into place, and feebly and with fumbling fingers placed nuts on the bolts. His hands wandered uncertainly toward the valves and closed the upper one. He waved his hand toward Carnes and sank in a heap on the floor ...
— Astounding Stories of Super-Science, December 1930 • Various

... voice, fumbling among its unused tones for forgotten notes, "art thou ready? Surely ...
— The Bell in the Fog and Other Stories • Gertrude Atherton

... of what was on her mind. I know this because she stopped when she reached the bedside and began fumbling with the waist of her wrapper. It was for the key she was searching, and when her fingers encountered it hanging on the outside, she opened her wrapper and thrust it in ...
— The Golden Slipper • Anna Katharine Green

... clumsily fumbling with my lacers (my fingers have ever been all thumbs when there is any dainty task to be performed) when I heard a rush of soft, padded feet, and down the corridor behind me, in response to that clear whistle, bounded a great dog. Through the arch that my bent ...
— The Rose of Old St. Louis • Mary Dillon

... one of the author's earliest stories, published in 1835. It is clearly based upon an old folk tale, one variant of which is "The Blue Light" from the Grimm collection (No. 174). "It was a lucky stroke," says Brandes, "that made Andersen the poet of children. After long fumbling, after unsuccessful efforts, which must necessarily throw a false and ironic light on the self-consciousness of a poet whose pride based its justification mainly on the expectancy of a future which he felt slumbering ...
— Children's Literature - A Textbook of Sources for Teachers and Teacher-Training Classes • Charles Madison Curry

... I suppose," said the mate, a little disdainfully. "Well, look at that old chap, will you!" A poor fellow was fumbling with his blankets, as if he did not know quite how to manage them. The attendant had to come to his help, and tuck him in. "Well, there!" exclaimed the mate, lifting himself on his elbow to admire the scene. "I don't suppose he's ever been in a decent bed ...
— The Minister's Charge • William D. Howells

... Mrs. Lawrence, glittering and supercilious, saw Peter, glowing and gay, saw the butler, with his attempt to be rude, and the little daughter of the house, tossing about in the luxurious pillows of her big bed. She thought of Lydia Lord's worn gloves, fumbling in her purse for money, of Mary Lord, so gratefully eating melting ice-cream from a pink saucer, with ...
— Saturday's Child • Kathleen Norris

... locate the black card," Dave's companion explained. "It's easy enough if you just keep your eye on the card, but the trouble with these rubes is they name the card and then start to get out their money, and while they're fumbling for it he makes a change so quick they never see it. There's just one way to beat him. Get up close, but don't say you're going to play; just pretend you're getting interested. Then when you're dead sure of ...
— The Cow Puncher • Robert J. C. Stead

... turning. Dismal and unspeakable sounds proceeded from the creature as it made towards the cellar-door. After it had got close and leaned against the panels in a toppling, swaying fashion, came a noise of creaking and fumbling, and then the door rolled aside upon its hinges. Next, the blurred white ridge towards Oyster-le-Main was darkened with moving specks that came steadily near; and man by man of the Guild reached the open ...
— The Dragon of Wantley - His Tale • Owen Wister

... is our one hope," he said; and untying himself with awkward fumbling fingers from the kinked rope, and coiling the spare rope about his shoulders, he went down the slope. During the night the steps had frozen and in many places it was necessary to recut them. He too was stiff with the long vigil. He moved slowly, with numbed and frozen limbs. But as ...
— Running Water • A. E. W. Mason

... recovered, felt her heart begin to beat again and the deadly faintness pass. There was a telegram on the table. She took it up, found it addressed to herself, opened it with fumbling fingers. ...
— The Bars of Iron • Ethel May Dell

... Fumbling in his pocket to show the bright dime, he found the torn page, and remembered the thirst for information which had seized ...
— St. Nicholas Magazine for Boys and Girls, Vol. 5, January 1878, No. 3 • Various

... lifelessness of the atmosphere of the place, as if nothing real ever happened there, and as if the cases we prepared and tried were of interest only on account of the legal points involved. When I was there, filing papers in their dusty packages, I used to feel as though I was fumbling among the dust of clients long since dead and gone. The place stifled and depressed me. I longed for red blood and real life. There I was, acting as a clerk on nothing a year, when uptown I was in the centre of the whirlpool of existence. ...
— The Confessions of Artemas Quibble • Arthur Train

... start like a sudden flick of a whip. Then again, motionless where they lay, the force of habit made some of them repeat the order in hardly audible murmurs. Captain Allistoun glanced down at his crew, and several, with fumbling fingers and hopeless movements, tried to cast themselves adrift. He repeated impatiently, "Wear ship. Now then, Mr. Baker, get the men along. What's the matter with them?"—"Wear ship. Do you hear there?—Wear ship!" thundered out the boatswain suddenly. His voice seemed to break through a ...
— The Nigger Of The "Narcissus" - A Tale Of The Forecastle • Joseph Conrad

... one fumbling at my door and making a clinking noise," he explained. "I called out. Nobody answered. Almost immediately I heard a noise across the hall. I opened my door. A man was fussing at the keyhole of the room opposite. He was very clumsy. I said, 'is that your room?' ...
— Average Jones • Samuel Hopkins Adams

... not to vex myself with what could not be remedied & ordered Peter to take out my cloaths that I might dress for court when to my astonishment & grief after fumbling several minutes in the portmanteau, starting [sic] at vacancy, & sweating most profusely he turned to me with the doleful tidings that I had no pair of breeches. You may be sure this piece of intelligence was not very graciously received; however, after a little scolding, I determined ...
— John Marshall and the Constitution - A Chronicle of the Supreme Court, Volume 16 In The - Chronicles Of America Series • Edward S. Corwin

... and Patty lay for an hour with her head close to Mother Bunch, and her hands softly touching the charming little Bunches, who squeaked and tumbled and sprawled about with their dim eyes blinking, their tiny pink paws fumbling, and their dear gray tails waggling in the sweetest way. Such a comfort as they were to Patty no words could tell, and nothing will ever convince me that Mrs. Bunch did not know all about baby, and so lay herself out ...
— Aunt Jo's Scrap-Bag • Louisa M. Alcott

... a moment, with trouble in his face, and then fumbling under his pillow produced a letter, which he ...
— Hawtrey's Deputy • Harold Bindloss

... departed from him. When the momentary red had passed, Horrocks saw a charred, blackened figure, its head streaked with blood, still clutching and fumbling with the chain, and writhing in agony—a cindery animal, an inhuman, monstrous creature that began a sobbing ...
— The Door in the Wall And Other Stories • H. G. Wells

... mail when, amongst a bunch of letters on the counter I saw one addressed to 'Gavin Blake, Esq., Governor of Barmsworth Prison, England.' Old Kelly, the postmaster, having his back to me at the time, fumbling around the pigeon-holes, I promptly annexed this letter and ...
— The Luck of the Mounted - A Tale of the Royal Northwest Mounted Police • Ralph S. Kendall

... attendance, said, when questioned, that she knew nothing of the pin or Mrs. Peterkin's wraps either, except that on first going up to the room after the lady's arrival, she found Harold Hastings fumbling them over, and that she sent him out with a sharp reprimand. Harold was then looked for and could not be found, for he had been at home and in bed for a good two hours. Clearly, then, he knew something of the pin; and Peterkin and ...
— Tracy Park • Mary Jane Holmes

... The fumbling approach to the bed, the sheets held open, the kind old hand outstretched, and then the haven . . . her head on the same pillow with that of the brave old woman who was afraid of nothing, who drew her up close and safe and with comforting assurance instantly ...
— The Brimming Cup • Dorothy Canfield Fisher

... fixed on him, and under their unwavering stare he seemed to be uneasy, his own inflamed eyes wandering ceaselessly over her, one hand fumbling at the curved hilt of a knife stuck in his belt, and at last he grew exasperated, hitching himself forward once more and beckoning her to come nearer to him. She hesitated, and as she paused uncertainly, there was a flutter of ...
— The Sheik - A Novel • E. M. Hull

... from the rafters and the soft goose feather bed which Uncle Jake said warded off dampness and kept him from having "the misery in his stiff ol' jints". In spite of his protests as to me remaining longer, I settled myself on a three-legged stool and with the aid of his fumbling fingers took off my bonnet. My mother insisted that a bonnet was for protection from wind and sun, so I always wore mine, but I had to have assistance in removing it because mother braided my hair near the top of my head and pulled ...
— Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States - Volume II. Arkansas Narratives. Part I • Work Projects Administration

... out his screw hammer and went to the handle. He was annoyed. "That's my business, I suppose," he said, fumbling with the screw. The unusual exertion had ...
— The Wheels of Chance - A Bicycling Idyll • H. G. Wells

... a sort of huge wallet, and fumbling among its multifarious contents pulled out an old faded paper, which he opened. Roy and Westy, who stood nearest to him could read it plainly enough and see two pictures, profile and front face, ...
— Roy Blakeley in the Haunted Camp • Percy Keese Fitzhugh

... hear Helena fumbling with the door latch, and by the time she had succeeded in opening the door the retreating figure of Thornton was a safe distance away. ...
— The Miracle Man • Frank L. Packard

... fumbling at his breast again, and there was the sharp crackle of paper. At first he didn't understand, then he knew that the woman had pinned a paper to the lapel of his coat. Finally she straightened up, and took two steps away from him, after which came a pause. His keenly ...
— Elusive Isabel • Jacques Futrelle

... was off! Then silence again, and after a moment the long-drawn howl of a hound, frankly perplexed, and the fierce, angry yell of a man far behind. With fingers that trembled because of the chase he had run, Tom reached in his pocket and got out a cob pipe. This he filled with tobacco, and fumbling in an upper pocket of his ...
— Frank of Freedom Hill • Samuel A. Derieux

... of water broke into mirth, instantly suppressed. We could see the Lizzie now. The ripples slipped round her to the tune of they-'avn't-found-'im-yet, they-'avn't-found-'im-yet-they 'avn't. The skipper and crew rose, fumbling at his feet for a rope. There did not seem to be much of the Lizzie. She was but a little raft to drift out on those tides which move among the stars. "Now's your chance," said her crew, and I took it, on all fours. The last remnant of London ...
— London River • H. M. Tomlinson

... had just been revealed in Stephen's office. There was, it seemed, nothing he could do for Susan Brundon. He envied the lawyer his position of familiar adviser, the ease with which the other spoke her name: Susan. He rose, fumbling with a jade seal. "Come, Eunice," he said, the lines deepening about his mouth and eyes. Stephen Jannan assisted him into the heavy, furred coat. "Well, Jasper," he remarked sympathetically, "if we could but look ahead, if we were older ...
— The Three Black Pennys - A Novel • Joseph Hergesheimer

... turning to the table. The boy played there, fumbling with the yellow forms. Tolliver glanced at the top one. He called out quickly to ...
— The Best Short Stories of 1920 - and the Yearbook of the American Short Story • Various

... sign, and an instrument with many broken strings was handed to the captive. Feversham seated himself upon the ground, and with slow, fumbling fingers, breathing hard as he bent over the zither, he began to elicit a wavering melody. It was the melody to which Durrance had listened in the street of Tewfikieh on the eve of his last journey into the desert; ...
— The Four Feathers • A. E. W. Mason

... escape and Taggi's action had made the alien reckless. Shann had no clue to the thinking processes of the non-human, but now the Throg staggered around the end of the plate, his digits, which were closer to claws than fingers, fumbling with his weapon. The Terran snapped another shot from his stunner, hoping to slow the enemy down. But he was trapped. If he turned to climb the cliff at his back, the beetle-head could easily ...
— Storm Over Warlock • Andre Norton

... there, she asked herself, to be sitting there crying over, like a rough-knuckled housewife whose man has stayed out all night in his cups? If he wanted to stay away that way, let him stay! And then she recalled his hand fumbling at the inner pocket of his coat, and the picture post-card which he had handed ...
— Claim Number One • George W. (George Washington) Ogden

... streamed beneath it. She stood still for a moment hesitatingly, when suddenly a hand grasped her own, and half led, half dragged her, into the sitting-room opposite. It was dark. There was a momentary fumbling for the tinder-box and flint, a muttered oath over one or two impeding articles of furniture, and Thankful laughed. And then the light was lit; and her father, a gray wrinkled man of sixty, still holding her ...
— Thankful Blossom • Bret Harte

... am I?" he said again. "Analysing myself like this ... turning myself inside out ... poking and probing into my mind!... Fumbling over my life, that's what I'm doing! Why don't I stand up to things? What's the meaning of me? What am I ...
— Changing Winds - A Novel • St. John G. Ervine

... opportunity or decision still had failed her. Nevertheless, another morning should not find her the same nameless, forsaken creature that she was now.—Manetho had bowed his face upon the altar, and so remained without movement. With one hand fumbling at the bosom of her dress—(the scar of her lover's blow should be the talisman to recall his allegiance),—Salome made bold to approach him and timidly ...
— Idolatry - A Romance • Julian Hawthorne

... pliancy, whose absence they had once noted in her, became, on the contrary, conspicuously hers. Once initiated into the tricks of the "Great Essay" style, she could use it with a dexterity strangely in contrast with the flat and fumbling manner in which poor Milly had been wont to express her ideas. But in the region of actual knowledge, she now and again perpetrated some immense and childish blunder, which made the teachers, who nursed and trained her like a jockey or a race-horse, ...
— The Invader - A Novel • Margaret L. Woods

... the hero could hear the blare of the trumpets of the Frankish army, and, at the sound, what was left of the Saracen host fled in terror. He made his way, blindly, painfully, to where Turpin lay, and with fumbling fingers took off his hauberk and unlaced his golden helmet. With what poor skill was left to him, he strove to bind up his terrible wounds with strips of his own tunic, and he dragged him, as gently as he could, to a spot under the beech trees where the fresh moss still ...
— A Book of Myths • Jean Lang

... much of a soldier," said the soul of Sergeant Todd, (Fumbling at his medal, that statement sounded odd.) "I wasn't so much of a fighter, but when they came, and came, Yelling and shooting, I just got mad, and I reckon I did the same. Into my trench they piled—just boys— Making a most ...
— With the Colors - Songs of the American Service • Everard Jack Appleton

... over slowly and took the provision sack from the tree, fumbling in its mysterious depths, and then emptying the entire contents upon the ground-sheet at ...
— Famous Modern Ghost Stories • Various

... the corral and began fumbling at his pack, his thoughts hushed before the revelation that had ...
— Cow-Country • B. M. Bower

... his knees fumbling with the cage, the girls watching him in eager anticipation; and this seems an excellent opportunity to describe the pretty apartment. It was about twelve feet square, and its two narrow white bedsteads ...
— All Aboard - A Story for Girls • Fannie E. Newberry

... to a pregnant woman who had evidently been sitting in a thin strip of shade by the fence; but now the sun was beating down on her bare head. She sat with her arms hanging along her sides, the palms of her hands turned upwards. A baby hardly a year old twisted fretfully on her lap, fumbling at her breast with a little red hand. But she looked steadily over the baby's round head, a curiously intent expression in her dark eyes, as though she were looking at something so far away that she must concentrate all herself on it so as not to ...
— Trapped in 'Black Russia' - Letters June-November 1915 • Ruth Pierce

... dilated to a plenilunar orb. The Westmoreland people (for at the lakes it was we knew him) expounded his condition to us by saying that he was 'maffled;' which word means 'perplexed in the extreme.' His wrath did not pass into lunacy; it produced simple distraction; an uneasy fumbling with the idea; like that of an old superannuated dog who longs to worry, but cannot for want of teeth. In this condition you will judge that he was rather tedious. And in this condition Coleridge took him up. Andrew's other idea, because he had two, related ...
— Narrative And Miscellaneous Papers • Thomas De Quincey

... the order of his going. He was down in the hall and fumbling with the handle of the front door with an agility of which few casual observers of his dimensions would have deemed him capable. The next moment he was out in the street, walking calmly toward Leicester Square, pondering ...
— Something New • Pelham Grenville Wodehouse

... was standing before His mirror fumbling with His moustache, which seemed unwilling any more to point upwards, but had a persistent droop. "Donner und blitzen!" He exclaimed irascibly as he added more ...
— Punch or the London Charivari, September 9, 1914 • Various

... side was the entrance proper, and, as he said so, he stepped up into the press and closed the doors. They could hear him fumbling within, then the sound of wood sliding, and finally a muffled voice calling to them. Marjorie flung the doors open, and, save for the dresses, it was empty. She stared in for a moment, still hearing the movements of someone ...
— Come Rack! Come Rope! • Robert Hugh Benson

... differently. For him, luck refers to the future, and you've got bad luck when future chance events won't go your way. Scientific investigations into this have been inconclusive, but everyone knows that some people are lucky and others aren't. All we've got are hints and glimmers, the fumbling touch of a rudimentary talent. There's the evil eye legend and the Jonah, bad luck bringers. Superstition? Maybe; but ask the insurance companies about accident prones. What's in a name? Call a man unlucky and you're superstitious. ...
— Accidental Death • Peter Baily

... is it, man?" said Sir Patrick Charteris. "Never lose time fumbling and prating about it. ...
— The Fair Maid of Perth • Sir Walter Scott

... of yours," answered Max, fumbling in his pocket, grateful for some excuse to break the silence. "You dropped your purse this morning. Permit me to return it to you. I hadn't the remotest idea how I was going to return it. In truth, I had just made up my mind to ...
— The Princess Elopes • Harold MacGrath

... and the sea. A small Sicilian vessel, laden with salt, passed into the Black Sea, and actually ascended the Danube to this point, which is within a few hours of the Hungarian frontier. As we approached the Iron Gates, the valley became a mere gorge, with barely room for the road, and fumbling through a cavernous fortification, we soon came in sight of the ...
— Servia, Youngest Member of the European Family • Andrew Archibald Paton

... clumsily this time to kiss the hem of her skirt, but she stepped aside quickly, fumbling meanwhile in her purse for a ...
— The Ne'er-Do-Well • Rex Beach

... spoken quietly, yet with an obvious significance, took Anstice aback. For a moment he frowned, his dazed mind fumbling after the speaker's meaning. ...
— Afterwards • Kathlyn Rhodes

... that the convict was right, for the native, after fumbling at the insensible man's girdle for a moment, reappeared at the fire, and something like a grin of triumph lighted up his greasy features, as he exposed to the admiring gaze the piece of tobacco which Fred ...
— The Gold Hunter's Adventures - Or, Life in Australia • William H. Thomes

... out of this frock, won't you, Marie?" she said. "It fidgets me to have Nora fumbling with the hooks. It's a complicated arrangement and I ...
— Patty's Suitors • Carolyn Wells

... dark and silent when, at one o'clock in the morning, Tom sat up in bed, and after fumbling about for a minute, found a match ...
— The Boys of Crawford's Basin - The Story of a Mountain Ranch in the Early Days of Colorado • Sidford F. Hamp

... with strange delight Through all the murmuring hours of night, And to the pale moss tells its story, And lichens fumbling far up the height. ...
— Song-waves • Theodore H. Rand

... was again. A tiny scratching on the door as though someone was fumbling for the slide-switch. Very quietly he sat, waiting, his finger poised against the trigger. Suddenly the scratching ceased, and the panel moved slowly open. A thin oblong patch glimmered in the light of the corridor ...
— Pirates of the Gorm • Nat Schachner

... patrons, and not according to our own appetites. So it became our habit to eat whenever victuals were put before us, even on a full stomach. "Eat whenever you have something to eat, so as not to go hungry when there may be no rations." That was a standing rule among the Cantonists. They began fumbling in my bag, and I was dying with shame at the thought that soon they would discover the piece of pork, and that my sin would become known to the pious congregation. Then I broke down, and with tears began to ...
— In Those Days - The Story of an Old Man • Jehudah Steinberg

... like his gray ghost expanding and escaping into the night air. Somehow, Uncle Bushrod could barely force his reluctant tongue to the dreadful subject. He stood, awkward, shambling, with his feet upon the gravel and fumbling with his stick. But then, afar off—three miles away, at the Jimtown switch—he heard the faint whistle of the coming train, the one that was to transport the Weymouth name into the regions of dishonour and shame. All fear left him. He took off his hat and faced ...
— Roads of Destiny • O. Henry

... boathouse even Tessie, who had confessed ignorance of boats and oars, knew that Ballou was fumbling clumsily. He stooped to adjust the oars to the oarlocks. His hat was off. His hair looked very gray in the cruel spring sunshine. He straightened and ...
— One Basket • Edna Ferber

... and gave the leader of the band a knowing nod. Suddenly, "God save the King" ceased, and "Sir Roger de Coverley" began. The rival forces eyed each other; Mr. Scully, accompanied by his friend, came forward, looking very red, and fumbling two ...
— The Bedford-Row Conspiracy • William Makepeace Thackeray

... would undoubtedly, like Tom Touchy, have been always "having the law of him." If Dickens had stumbled in among the old armour and quaint folios of Scott's study he would certainly have read his brother novelist a lesson in no measured terms about the futility of thus fumbling in the dust-bins of old oppression and error. So far from Dickens being one of those who like a thing because it is old, he was one of those cruder kind of reformers, in theory at least, who actually dislike ...
— Appreciations and Criticisms of the Works of Charles Dickens • G. K. Chesterton

... a scratching at the key-hole of the outside door; she knew it was Alan's latch. She had left the inner door ajar that there might be no uncertainty of hearing him, and she ran out into the space between that and the outer door where the fumbling ...
— Henry James, Jr. • William Dean Howells

... Ali's lead, Fatimah stepped up to Israel and offered her paper back. "Take it," she said; "I don't want any liberty. I've got liberty enough as I am. And here—here," fumbling in her waistband and bringing out a knitted purse; "I would have offered it before, only I thought shame. My wages? Yes. You've paid us wages these nine years, haven't you; and what right had we to any, being slaves? You will not take it, my lord? Well, then, my dear master, ...
— The Scapegoat • Hall Caine

... paddle back. The old gentleman was hastily fumbling in his pockets. After an instant he descended ...
— The Forest • Stewart Edward White

... others, who sprang from the table and clustered about him, fierce birds of prey about a helpless quarry. The lad cried for help, hopelessly enough. Strong, dirty fingers were tearing open his jerkin and fumbling for the concealed letter, when suddenly it seemed to the astonished swordsmen that an earthquake and a whirlwind had combined for their undoing. AEsop rolled to one end of the room, Staupitz to another; Cocardasse and Passepoil, Saldagno, Pepe, Pinto, Faenza, ...
— The Duke's Motto - A Melodrama • Justin Huntly McCarthy

... from the opposite end, was brought to a shock of tense balanced alertness. How much did he know? He gave no sign of emotion, but reached for a cigarette to cover any change in his breathing, fumbling perhaps more than usual. ...
— The Man Who Staked the Stars • Charles Dye

... It comes from brilliantly-defective minds,—so far as one can see,—from men of attractively imperfect sympathies. Nordau, working himself into a mighty wrath because mystery is left out of his soul, gathering adjectives about his loins, stalks this little fluttered modern world, puts his huge, fumbling, hippopotamus hoof upon the Blessed Damozel, goes crashing through the press. He is greeted with a shudder of delight. Even Matthew Arnold, a man who had a way of seeing things almost, sometimes, criticises Emerson for lack of unity, because the unity was on so large ...
— The Lost Art of Reading • Gerald Stanley Lee

... Then with fumbling, unpractised hands Cynthia gathered her two long shining braids and bound them around her head—somewhere she had seen the fashion, and a feminine instinct appropriated it. Next she stepped quietly to the window and broke off a deep yellow rose and a ...
— A Son of the Hills • Harriet T. Comstock

... said the sailor, fumbling in his pockets. He produced a shabby little hussif, containing a thimble, scissors, needles and some skeins of unbleached thread. Case and contents were sodden or rusted with salt water, but the girl fastened upon this treasure with a sigh ...
— The Wings of the Morning • Louis Tracy

... and reduces the contents of the brain to cauliflower. It was like that with this Bassett and me; so much so that I have known occasions when for minutes at a stretch Bertram Wooster might have been observed fumbling with the tie, shuffling the feet, and behaving in all other respects in her presence like the complete dumb brick. When, therefore, she took her departure some two weeks before we did, you may readily ...
— Right Ho, Jeeves • P. G. Wodehouse

... was very, very tall. "We hope to get to Dijon tonight," Uncle John said. "Can you tell us, sir, if we shall have any difficulty?" The American did not bother to raise his hat or any fuss, but just got out of his car and told the facts to Uncle John; and then he turned to the chauffeur, who was fumbling with the tyre—it was something complicated, not only just the bursting—and in a minute or two he was down in the mud giving such practical advice. And you never heard such slang! But I believe men like that sort of thing, as the chauffeur ...
— Elizabeth Visits America • Elinor Glyn

... his desk, and began fumbling in a drawer. She stood hesitatingly watchful. "If you would jest tell me where I'd find the key," she ventured to remark. She had a vague idea that she would be told to look under a parlor blind for the key, that being the innocent country ...
— Jane Field - A Novel • Mary E. Wilkins Freeman

... truer, a more charming familiarity of class for class, and Brancadori immediately gave a proof of it in addressing as "Carolei"—that is to say, "my dear"—him whom his daughter had blazoned with a coronet, and he cried, fumbling in the pockets of the alpaca waistcoat which he wore over his apron ...
— Serge Panine • Georges Ohnet

... responded, rising from her chair and fumbling along the mantel-shelf for matches. "I'm sorry I forgot the candles." The mere sound of his voice had made her heart leap ...
— Master of the Vineyard • Myrtle Reed

... She glanced up at him so briefly that he caught only a flicker of her yellow-brown eyes, and went on fumbling her flowers. Kent stood and looked down ...
— Lonesome Land • B. M. Bower

... at the tall head bent before her, with a curious sense of wonder that a look from her could make a strong man flush and pale, as he had done; and she was trying to concoct some friendly speech, when Frank, still fumbling at the knots, said, ...
— Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 12, August, 1863, No. 70 - A Magazine of Literature, Art, and Politics • Various

... is some one by who is out of sympathy with the scene, and is not moved up to the measure of the occasion; and that some one is himself. The world is disenchanted for him. He seems to himself to touch things with muffled hands, and to see them through a veil. His life becomes a palsied fumbling after notes that are silent when he has found and struck them. He cannot recognise that this phlegmatic and unimpressionable body with which he now goes burthened, is the same that he knew heretofore so quick and delicate ...
— Virginibus Puerisque • Robert Louis Stevenson

... country. But there was no good sitting there like a shipwrecked mariner, nursing sores and misfortunes; presently one would begin to feel sorry for oneself—that last resort of incompetence. And the bitter wind is a great stimulus. It will not permit inaction. So I was up again, fumbling at the sled lashings as best I could with torpid fingers, when one of my companions, uneasy at my delay, very kindly made his way back, and with his assistance I was able to get the sled upright again without unloading and hold ...
— Ten Thousand Miles with a Dog Sled - A Narrative of Winter Travel in Interior Alaska • Hudson Stuck

... heed to him. He was fumbling with the pocket of the skirt as he ran. Not until he had withdrawn a revolver from its folds—whereupon he at once threw away the garment—did the maddening remembrance come to him that he unloaded the weapon prior to the Customs examination, ...
— The Albert Gate Mystery - Being Further Adventures of Reginald Brett, Barrister Detective • Louis Tracy

... old man, fumbling in his pocket: "I s'pose, perhaps, I an't following my judgment,—hang it, I won't follow my judgment!" he added, suddenly; "so here, George," and, taking out a roll of bills from his pocket-book, he offered ...
— Uncle Tom's Cabin • Harriet Beecher Stowe

... hand of M'liss, and commenced mechanically to button his coat around his chest with fumbling, purposeless fingers. He then passed his hand across his forehead as if to clear his confused and bewildered brain; all this, however, to no better result than to apparently root his feet to the soil and to intensify the stupefaction which seemed ...
— The Luck of Roaring Camp and Other Tales • Bret Harte

... alone, and though he drove with speed he drove with safety. Accidents, for which he personally might be responsible, were things he did not tolerate. And they never occurred. That same sureness and definiteness of adjustment with which, without fumbling or approximating, he picked up a pencil or reached for a door-knob, was his in the more complicated adjustments, with which, as instance, he drove a high-powered machine at high ...
— The Little Lady of the Big House • Jack London

... revealer," she whispered gently, rising to her feet with great eyes. He turned away, and after fumbling a moment sent a rocket into the darkening air. It arose, shrieked, and flew up, a slim path of light, and scattering its stars abroad, dropped on the city below. She scarcely noticed it. A vision of the world had risen before her. Slowly the mighty ...
— Darkwater - Voices From Within The Veil • W. E. B. Du Bois

... fumbling with the button of his great coat, looking much annoyed, and saying nothing; Roger called out to him that they could not wait all day, and he exerted himself to take Beatrice by the arm, and say, "Bee, ...
— Henrietta's Wish • Charlotte M. Yonge

... and she darted away, fumbling with her dress. "I come," she called, and opened the door. Lucienne and Pennell came in, and the two men exchanged glances. Then Pennell looked away. Lucienne glanced at them and shrugged her shoulders. "Come, Graham," said Pennell; "let's ...
— Simon Called Peter • Robert Keable

... reasoning must be so rapid as to defy conscious reference to first principles, and even at times to be apparently subversive of them altogether, or the action will halt. It must, in fact, become automatic before we are safe with it. While we are fumbling for the grounds of our conviction, our conviction is prone to fall, as Peter for lack of faith sinking into the waves of Galilee; so that the very power to prove at all is an a priori argument against the truth—or at any rate the practical importance ...
— Life and Habit • Samuel Butler

... lookin' fer ye a long while," said Jake, simply, and he smiled strangely as he moved slowly forward and looked down at his enemy—his heavy head wagging from side to side. Jerry was fumbling at his belt. The big knife flashed, but Jake's hand was as quick as its gleam, and he had the wrist that held it. His great fingers crushed together, the blade dropped on the ground, and again the big twins looked at each other. Slowly, ...
— The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come • John Fox

... the same moment a peculiar odour came creeping in beneath and round the door; and Vane, as he forced a reluctant button through the corresponding hole with fumbling fingers ...
— The Weathercock - Being the Adventures of a Boy with a Bias • George Manville Fenn

... 1.—Yes, that is the word—good luck—it is all good luck. It is astonishing how many farmers there are in this country who will stand with their hands in their breeches pockets, fumbling idle dollars, while a neighbor expends his for guano, and produces a fine crop of wheat upon an old worn out buckwheat field; at which they stare in stupid wonder at the good luck of ...
— Guano - A Treatise of Practical Information for Farmers • Solon Robinson

... Fumbling for string and for notes the instrument could not yield up to him, the birdlike mouth began once more to open widely and ...
— Humoresque - A Laugh On Life With A Tear Behind It • Fannie Hurst

... fill the mugs again, more than once, and he and the stranger did have a chat; at least, they talked together for the better part of an hour. In all that time Master Vallance, fumbling foolishly with flagrant questions, learned little of his companion save what that companion was willing, or maybe determined, that he should learn. Master Halfman made no concealment of it that he had been ...
— The Lady of Loyalty House - A Novel • Justin Huntly McCarthy

... 8th, Monday.—Last night my maid heard footsteps and the sound of hands fumbling on her door; this she told us when she came in ...
— The Alleged Haunting of B—— House • Various

... followed by several others, which, as they were successively performed, gradually unfolded the drift of his intentions. Drawing the knife which hung at his girdle, he went into the bushes, whence he quickly returned, dragging after him a large branch. From this he stripped the leaves and twigs. Fumbling in his pocket for some time, he drew forth a piece of stout cord, about four yards long, with a cod-hook attached to the end of it. This line had been constructed some weeks before when the canoes were wind-bound at a part of the coast where ...
— Ungava • R.M. Ballantyne

... Good-night." We bowed and went back to find our horses in the gloom. After some fumbling, for it was intensely dark after facing the light in the doorway of the bungalow, we got into the saddle and turned homeward ...
— Mr. Isaacs • F. Marion Crawford

... lowered his head, rammed it into Bob's chin, and at the same time reached for the young man's gullet with both hands. Bob tore his head out of reach in the nick of time. As they closed again Roaring Dick's right hand was free. Bob felt the riverman's thumb fumbling ...
— The Rules of the Game • Stewart Edward White

... laugh if I seem a little fumbling in my efforts. The fault is yours, in refusing to share your lights with me. Let Philosophy, then, be like a city—a city whose citizens within it are a happy people, as your master would tell you, having lately come thence, as we suppose. All the ...
— Marius the Epicurean, Volume Two • Walter Horatio Pater

... of the man of violence whom we expected, a very old and wrinkled woman hobbled into the apartment. She appeared to be dazzled by the sudden blaze of light, and after dropping a curtsey, she stood blinking at us with her bleared eyes and fumbling in her pocket with nervous, shaky fingers. I glanced at my companion, and his face had assumed such a disconsolate expression that it was all I could do to ...
— A Study In Scarlet • Arthur Conan Doyle

... so handicapped, she could never reach them, and with shaking, fumbling fingers she set herself to unfasten the straps that bound the skis. It took her a long, long time—all the longer for her fevered haste. And still that awful, flail-like sound went on and on, though all sound of voices ...
— The Knave of Diamonds • Ethel May Dell

... and ring for Mrs. Davies,' he would say in so casual a way that of course you would ring. On Mrs. Davies's appearance he would be fumbling about among the papers in his pocket-book, and presently he would say, with a look of frustration that went to one's heart—'I've got a ten-pound note somewhere here for you, Mrs. Davies, to pay you up till Saturday, ...
— Prose Fancies (Second Series) • Richard Le Gallienne

... man left the reins hanging on the broncho's neck. The horses began cropping the grass. The Ranger was fumbling at his stirrup. ...
— The Freebooters of the Wilderness • Agnes C. Laut

... observe the odd-looking country boy toe the pigskin. Several audible remarks were made, none of them at all flattering to the subject of them; but if the latter heard them he made no sign, but accepted the ball from Blair without fumbling it, much to the surprise of the onlookers. Among these were Clausen and Cloud, their mouths prepared for the burst of ironical laughter that was expected to ...
— The Half-Back • Ralph Henry Barbour

... stood outside the door she knew it was Salve, although she had always pictured him to herself as a common sailor. She stood there trembling all over, and fumbling with the latch of the door in the greatest agitation, evidently debating with herself whether she should dare go in again. She pressed upon the latch, in the certainty that it would go up before she had actually decided that she ...
— The Pilot and his Wife • Jonas Lie

... when he called the following Saturday and stood at her door awkwardly fumbling his hat, trying to ask her to spend the afternoon and evening at Coney Island with him. There was no mistaking the manner in which ...
— The Foolish Virgin • Thomas Dixon

... as the train was starting, came a hurrying shadowy thing with dreamy eyes, long hair like waving grass, and open hands that he spread like wings, as though he were sowing something through the air. And he was singing softly as he came fumbling along the byeways ...
— A Prisoner in Fairyland • Algernon Blackwood

... mind. "Is there some treachery afoot?" he asked her, and his eye went wildly to the clock. A harsh, grating sound rang through the room. "What are you doing?" he cried. "Why have you locked the door?" She was tugging and fumbling desperately to extract the key, her hands all clumsy in her nervous haste. He leapt at her, but in that moment the key came away in her hand. She wheeled round to face ...
— Mistress Wilding • Rafael Sabatini

... all around him were immediately seen fumbling in pockets and desks, and in a few minutes several pencils were reached ...
— The Teacher • Jacob Abbott

... great original impulse which set in motion all the enterprises of the century. He is the last and greatest figure in the English Renaissance. The new passion for art and letters which in its earnest fumbling beginnings gave us the prose of Cheke and Ascham and the poetry of Surrey and Sackville, comes to a full and splendid and perfect end in his work. In it the Renaissance and the Reformation, imperfectly fused by Sidney and Spenser, blend in their just proportions. The transplantation into ...
— English Literature: Modern - Home University Library Of Modern Knowledge • G. H. Mair

... shall hear. A week ago to-night, I was passing through this very room without a candle on my way to bed, when . . . what should I see, but a masked man fumbling at that window! How he did the Lord knows. I suspect, Procurator, it was not the first he'd tried . . . for he opened it as handily as his ...
— The Plays of W. E. Henley and R. L. Stevenson

... story about the death of the Homelovers treasurer, down to the last detail of the framed photograph on Wright's desk. The tale brought Colonel Mordigan into immediate action. He buzzed for his orderly, and in another minute, was fumbling through a ...
— Get Out of Our Skies! • E. K. Jarvis

... hand to each, and they awkwardly gave him theirs, not knowing what to say and sitting in silent embarrassment on either side of the bed, waiting for him to speak. At last he laid Tabitha's hand on the counterpane, and fumbling beneath his pillow, drew forth a bright gold piece, which he held out to her, smiling sadly at the surprise ...
— Tabitha at Ivy Hall • Ruth Alberta Brown

... McIntosh, cautiously, fumbling in the bag; 'there's naething muckle in the toun, but—deil tack the bag,' he continued, tetchily shaking it. 'I've gotten a ...
— Madame Midas • Fergus Hume

... the leg bands been shoved to?" said an orderly, running behind the cart and fumbling in ...
— War and Peace • Leo Tolstoy

... lot of roots like a ladder." The hunchback gropes for a root with his heel, and tightly gripping several twigs, stands on it. . . . Having got his balance, and established himself in his new position, he bends down, and trying not to get the water into his mouth, begins fumbling with his right hand among the roots. Getting entangled among the weeds and slipping on the mossy roots he finds his hand in contact with the sharp ...
— The Cook's Wedding and Other Stories • Anton Chekhov

... our triumphal entry into Harlowe House," declaimed Emma Dean, as she and Grace picked up their luggage, and, followed by Mary Reynolds and her huge newspaper-wrapped bundle, mounted the steps. At the door Grace again set down her luggage. Fumbling for her latch key she fitted ...
— Grace Harlowe's Return to Overton Campus • Jessie Graham Flower

... shops; wordless, menacing, nearer and nearer. Within the tiny storeroom no one had spoken, no one had noticed. The arms of Walt Wagner were not on the showcase now. In the depths of his pockets they were fumbling again, aimlessly, nervously. His face had gone whiter than before. Once he had opened his lips to speak, revealing the blackness of the vacant tooth; but he had closed them again silently. Now at last he cleared his throat, ...
— Where the Trail Divides • Will Lillibridge

... to thank you," mumbled the other. He seemed to be fumbling in his pocket. "I'll give you my card," he went on. "If you are ever in ...
— Baseball Joe in the Big League - or, A Young Pitcher's Hardest Struggles • Lester Chadwick

... it is my orders!" cried Nelson, snatching it up and fumbling with it in his awkward, one-handed attempt to break the seals. Lady Hamilton ran to his assistance, but no sooner had she glanced at the paper inclosed than she burst into a shrill scream, and throwing up her hands and her eyes, she sank backwards in a swoon. I ...
— Rodney Stone • Arthur Conan Doyle

... the little open space where the tent stood was flooded with silvery light, though here and there the shadows of the firs fell athwart it black as ink and sharp as a fretwork cut in ebony. Then he saw Saunders close beside him, fumbling with the magazine of ...
— The Gold Trail • Harold Bindloss

... they steer. Dear me—you ought to see 'em go round and round in that tub." Then, apparently recalling the probable purpose of John's visit, he led the way into his dressing-room. "So you are in London, dear boy. Is there any little thing you want? I have," he continued, absently fumbling in the drawers of his dressing-table, "a few curacies and a bishopric somewhere, but with these blessed models—I can't think where they are. Or what would you say to a nice chaplaincy in the navy, with a becoming uniform, on one of those thingummies?" He ...
— New Burlesques • Bret Harte

... I lifted it up and put it down again, and sent out for three-ha'porth of gin. Then I tackled the blooming thing again. One arm went in with a ten-horse power shove. Next I tried the other. After no end of fumbling I found the sleeve. "In you go!" I said to my arm, and in he went, only it happened to be the breast-pocket. I jammed, the pocket creaked, but I jammed hardest, and in went my fist, ...
— Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 99, October 4, 1890 • Various

... extinguishing the feeble flame at once. And then, as Raymond with a roar of rage started toward them, he flung the lantern straight at him. A cry of pain told him that his aim had been true, even in the darkness, and then he leaped up the stairs after Arthur, who was already fumbling at the bolt. In a moment they were through the door and had burst into the midst of the astonished soldiers in ...
— The Belgians to the Front • Colonel James Fiske

... the old gentleman, sitting down and fumbling in his pocket; 'wait until you've heard this letter, and then see what ...
— Saved at Sea - A Lighthouse Story • Mrs. O.F. Walton

... the hand which had been fumbling in his pocket. Arnold looked suddenly into the muzzle of ...
— The Lighted Way • E. Phillips Oppenheim



Words linked to "Fumbling" :   unskilled



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