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An altered form (with dissimilation of mm to mb) of dialectal rammle, from Middle English *ramlen, *ramelen, frequentative of Middle English ramen (to roam, ramble); compare Swedish ramla (to stumble; fall; make a noise; rumble), Danish ramle (to stumble; collapse; thunder; boom); equivalent to roam +‎ -le.

"mid-15 c., perhaps frequentative of 'romen' 'to walk, go' perhaps via 'romblen' (late 14 c.) 'to ramble.' The vowel change perhaps by influence of Middle Dutch 'rammelen,' a derivative of 'rammen' 'copulate,' 'used of the night wanderings of the amorous cat.' Meaning 'to talk or write incoherently' is from 1630s"[1].


  • IPA(key): /ˈɹæmbəl/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -æmbəl


ramble (plural rambles)

  1. A leisurely stroll; a recreational walk in the countryside.
    • 1811, Jane Austen, chapter 16, in Sense and Sensibility:
      Marianne was prevailed upon to join her sisters in their usual walk, instead of wandering away by herself. Hitherto she had carefully avoided every companion in her rambles. If her sisters intended to walk on the downs, she directly stole away towards the lanes; []
    • 1835, William Gilmore Simms, The Partisan, Harper, Chapter XI, page 138:
      The place was a favourite with all, and the ramble in this quarter was quite a regular custom of the afternoon with the fair heiress of Colonel Walton in particular.
  2. A rambling; an instance of someone talking at length without direction.
  3. (mining) A bed of shale over the seam of coal[2].
  4. A section of woodland suitable for leisurely walking.



ramble (third-person singular simple present rambles, present participle rambling, simple past and past participle rambled)

  1. To move about aimlessly, or on a winding course
  2. To walk for pleasure; to amble or saunter.
  3. To lead the life of a vagabond or itinerant; to move about with no fixed place of address.
    • 1994, Richard Thompson, “Beeswing”
      We was drinking more in those days and tempers reached a pitch
      And like a fool I let her run with the rambling itch
  4. To talk or write incessantly, unclearly, or incoherently, with many digressions.
    Francine has a tendency to ramble when it gets to be late in the evening.
  5. To follow a winding path or course.
    The river rambled through the mountains.


  • (talk or write unclearly, or incoherently): drivel, sperg



  1. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2023), “ramble”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.
  2. ^ 1881, Rossiter W. Raymond, A Glossary of Mining and Metallurgical Terms

Further reading[edit]