v. tum·bled, tum·bling, tum·bles
1. To perform acrobatic feats such as somersaults, rolls, or twists.
a. To fall, roll, or move end over end: The rocks tumbled down the hill. The kittens tumbled over each other. The asteroids tumble through space.
b. To spill, roll out, or emerge in confusion or disorder: Toys tumbled out of the closet.
c. To pitch headlong; fall: tumbled on the ice.
d. To move quickly or awkwardly: We tumbled into the kitchen for lunch.
e. To hang down: Her hair tumbled onto her shoulders.
a. To collapse: The wall tumbled down.
b. To undergo a decline in position, status, or fortune: He tumbled from high office.
c. To decrease: Prices tumbled.
4. To come upon accidentally; happen on: We tumbled on a fine restaurant.
5. Slang To come to a sudden understanding; catch on: tumbled to the reality that he had been cheated.
1. To cause to fall or collapse; bring down: The earthquake tumbled the wall.
2. To put, spill, or toss haphazardly: tumbled the extra parts into a box.
3. To toss or whirl in a drum, tumbler, or tumbling box: The dryer tumbles the clothes.
4. To cause to lose position, status, or fortune: A scandal tumbled the government.
1. An act of tumbling; a fall.
2. A decrease, as in value: Home prices took a tumble.
3. A confused or disordered collection or amount of something: a tumble of shacks by the river.
[Middle English tumblen, frequentative of tumben, to dance about, from Old English tumbian.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.