9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[muhm-buh l] /ˈmʌm bəl/
verb (used without object), mumbled, mumbling.
to speak in a low indistinct manner, almost to an unintelligible extent; mutter.
to chew ineffectively, as from loss of teeth:
to mumble on a crust.
verb (used with object), mumbled, mumbling.
to say or utter indistinctly, as with partly closed lips:
He mumbled something about expenses.
to chew, or try to eat, with difficulty, as from loss of teeth.
a low, indistinct utterance or sound.
Origin of mumble
1275-1325; Middle English momelen, equivalent to mom(me) mum1 + -elen -le; compare Dutch mommelen, German mummeln
Related forms
mumbler, noun
mumblingly, adverb
half-mumbled, adjective
unmumbled, adjective
unmumbling, adjective
1, 3. See murmur.
1. articulate. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for mumbling
  • Ask a physicist what emergent properties are and how does he propose to measure them and he'll walk off mumbling to himself.
  • mumbling in faculty meetings is not normal behavior, and it cannot be explained by the quirks of faculty.
  • Sometimes the mumbling and grumbling subsides until it is barely audible.
  • The other day, one of these mumbling individuals was called to give evidence in a case touching the efficiency of a machine.
  • And that is what the general population sees: homeless schizophrenics mumbling in alleys.
  • Consider these mumbling out loud, ruminations to ponder.
  • Sometimes too relaxed: a slouching, mumbling bartender undermines the ambience of his domain.
  • But then yet another scene featured a long, mumbling monologue to a horse.
  • Instead he returns to the parental loft and, mumbling something about the flight, crawls into his old lair.
  • She chased rabbits in her sleep, stirring and mumbling.
British Dictionary definitions for mumbling


to utter indistinctly, as with the mouth partly closed; mutter
(rare) to chew (food) ineffectually or with difficulty
an indistinct or low utterance or sound
Derived Forms
mumbler, noun
mumbling, adjective
mumblingly, adverb
Word Origin
C14 momelen, from mum²
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for mumbling



early 14c., momelen, "to eat in a slow, ineffective manner" (perhaps "to talk with one's mouth full"), probably frequentative of interjection mum. The -b- is excrescent. Meaning "to speak indistinctly" is from mid-14c. Related: Mumbled; mumbling.


1902, from mumble (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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