From Middle English tumblen (“to fall over and over again, tumble”), frequentative of Middle English tumben (“to fall, leap, dance”), from Old English tumbian, from Proto-Germanic *tūmōną (“to turn, rotate”). Cognate with Middle Dutch tumelen (whence Dutch tuimelen); Middle Low German tumelen, tummelen; and German taumeln.
tumble (plural tumbles)
- A fall, especially end over end.
- I took a tumble down the stairs and broke my tooth.
- A disorderly heap.
- 2008, David Joutras, A Ghost in the World, page 55:
- When at last we stopped in a tumble of bodies on the grass, laughing, and in Dad's case, out of breath, we were like little kids (I mean 5 or 6! After all I am 12!) at the end of a playground session.
- (informal) An act of sexual intercourse.
- 1940, John Betjeman, Group Life: Letchworth:
- Wouldn't it be jolly now, / To take our Aertex panters off / And have a jolly tumble in / The jolly, jolly sun?
- 1979, Martine, Sexual Astrology, page 219:
- When you've just had a tumble between the sheets and are feeling rumpled and lazy, she may want to get up so she can make the bed.
- (intransitive) To fall end over end; to roll over and over.
- 1907 August, Robert W[illiam] Chambers, The Younger Set, New York, N.Y.: D. Appleton & Company, →OCLC:
- “Heavens!” exclaimed Nina, “the blue-stocking and the fogy!—and yours are pale blue, Eileen!—you’re about as self-conscious as Drina—slumping there with your hair tumbling à la Mérode! Oh, it's very picturesque, of course, but a straight spine and good grooming is better. […]”
- 1945 September and October, C. Hamilton Ellis, “Royal Trains—V”, in Railway Magazine, page 250:
- Before so many of Europe's crowns came tumbling off the heads of their royal owners, Continental Europe could show a rich variety in the matter of royal trains.
- (transitive) To throw headlong.
- 1861, E. J. Guerin, Mountain Charley, page 42:
- His hand went after his revolver almost that instant mine did. I was a second too quick for him, for my shot tumbled him from his mule just as his ball whistled harmlessly past by my head.
- 2012, Max Overton, Horemheb:
- [A] surge of muddy water tore him free from his sandy nook and tumbled him down the gully.
- (intransitive) To perform gymnastics such as somersaults, rolls, and handsprings.
- (intransitive) To drop rapidly.
- Share prices tumbled after the revelation about the company's impending failure.
- (transitive) To smooth and polish (e.g. gemstones or pebbles) by means of a rotating tumbler.
- (intransitive, informal) To have sexual intercourse.
- (intransitive) To move or rush in a headlong or uncontrolled way.
- 1851 November 14, Herman Melville, chapter XXVII, in Moby-Dick; or, The Whale, 1st American edition, New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers; London: Richard Bentley, →OCLC, page 129:
- Whether he ever thought of it at all, might be a question ; but, if he ever did chance to cast his mind that way after a comfortable dinner, no doubt, like a good sailor, he took it to be a sort of call of the watch to tumble aloft, and bestir themselves there, about something which he would find out when he obeyed the order, and not sooner.
- To muss, to make disorderly; to tousle or rumple.
- (cryptocurrencies) To obscure the audit trail of funds by means of a tumbler.
- 2019, Brian Merchant, “Click Here to Kill: The dark world of online murder markets”, in Harper’s Magazine, volume 2020, number January:
- Now it’s easy to purchase bitcoins on any number of mainstream markets and “tumble” them so that their point of purchase is obscured.
- (obsolete, UK, slang) To comprehend; often in tumble to.
- 1851, Henry Mayhew, London Labour and the London Poor:
- Speaking of this language, a costermonger said to me: "The Irish can't tumble to it anyhow; the Jews can tumble better, but we're their masters. Some of the young salesmen at Billingsgate understand us, — but only at Billingsgate; […]