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Middle English tumblen; frequentative of Middle English tumben, from Old English tumbian, from Proto-Germanic *tūmōną (to turn, rotate).



tumble (plural tumbles)

  1. A fall.
    I took a tumble down the stairs and broke my tooth.
  2. An act of sexual intercourse.
    • 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.

Derived terms[edit]



tumble (third-person singular simple present tumbles, present participle tumbling, simple past and past participle tumbled)

  1. (intransitive) To fall end over end; to roll.
    • Robert South (1634–1716)
      He who tumbles from a tower surely has a greater blow than he who slides from a molehill.
    • 1907, Robert William Chambers, chapter IX, in The Younger Set (Project Gutenberg; EBook #14852), New York, N.Y.: D. Appleton & Company, published 1 February 2005 (Project Gutenberg version), OCLC 24962326:
      “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. []
  2. To perform gymnastics such as somersaults, rolls, and handsprings.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Rowe to this entry?)
  3. To roll over and over.
  4. (informal) To have sexual intercourse.
  5. (transitive) To smooth and polish a rough surface on relatively small parts.
  6. To muss, to make disorderly; to tousle or rumple.
    to tumble a bed

Derived terms[edit]