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From Old Norse, akin to Swedish dialect bangla 'to work ineffectually', from Old Swedish bunga 'to strike'. Compare German Bengel 'cudgel; rude fellow', Middle High German bungen 'to hammer'.



bungle (plural bungles)

  1. A botched or incompetently handled situation.
    • 1888, Henry Lawson, "United Division".
      The Soudan bungle was born partly of sentimental loyalty and partly of the aforementioned jealousy existing between the colonies, and now at a time when the colonies should club closer together our Government is doing all they can to widen the breach by trying to pass a bill enabling New South Wales to monopolise the name “Australia”.


bungle (third-person singular simple present bungles, present participle bungling, simple past and past participle bungled)

  1. (transitive, intransitive) To botch up, bumble or incompetently perform a task; to make or mend clumsily; to manage awkwardly.
    • 2014, Paul Doyle, "Southampton hammer eight past hapless Sunderland in barmy encounter", The Guardian, 18 October 2014:
      There was a whiff of farce about Southampton’s second goal too, as, six minutes later, a bungled Sunderland pass ricocheted off Will Buckley’s backside to the feet of Dusan Tadic.
    • 1853, Charles Dickens, Bleak House, Chapter 49.
      His hand shakes, he is nervous, and it falls off. “Would any one believe this?” says he, catching it as it drops and looking round. “I am so out of sorts that I bungle at an easy job like this!”
    • Byron
      I always had an idea that it would be bungled.