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Fumbling   /fˈəmbəlɪŋ/  /fˈəmblɪŋ/   Listen
Fumbling

adjective
1.
Showing lack of skill or aptitude.  Synonyms: bungling, clumsy, incompetent.  "Did a clumsy job" , "His fumbling attempt to put up a shelf"






WordNet 3.0 © 2010 Princeton University








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"Fumbling" Quotes from Famous Books



... the whole thing is!" he cried. "What a fumbling old fool old Mother Nature has been! She drives us into indignity and dishonour: and she doesn't even get the children which are her only excuse for her mischief. See what a fantastic thing I am when you take the machine to pieces! ...
— The Secret Places of the Heart • H. G. Wells

... to himself, as though he were examining a life from the outside rather than from the inside, and fumbling at its ...
— Jewel Weed • Alice Ames Winter

... loading pistol should be practiced without looking at it. In order to do this successfully it is necessary to know exactly where the magazines are carried so the hand may find them without fumbling. Also, since the projection at the front of the magazine base is on the same side as the bullets, and the magazine must be inserted in the socket with these to the front, the magazine should be carried in the pocket with the projection to the left ...
— Military Instructors Manual • James P. Cole and Oliver Schoonmaker

... a new medal and a new power," exclaimed the professor. Then, fumbling in his breast-pocket, he drew forth a wallet from which he extracted a small rectangular plate of—apparently—polished silver. It measured about five inches long by four inches broad, and was about a quarter of ...
— The Log of the Flying Fish - A Story of Aerial and Submarine Peril and Adventure • Harry Collingwood

... a sort of huge wallet, and fumbling among its multifarious contents pulled out an old faded paper, which he opened. Roy and Westy, who stood nearest to him could read it plainly enough and see two pictures, profile and ...
— Roy Blakeley in the Haunted Camp • Percy Keese Fitzhugh

... With fumbling hands he kindled a rushlight. The peat fire had long gone out and left only a heap of white ashes. The gruel by the bed had been spilled and was lying on the floor. Only the jug of water was drained to ...
— The Moon Endureth—Tales and Fancies • John Buchan

... I don't care to hear it at present. I've got something a great deal more important to think about—dammit." He sat down heavily, and began fumbling for his cigar case. His ...
— Mr. Bingle • George Barr McCutcheon

... as well that there led an outlet somewhere. At any rate Lippi and Botticelli, to those who know them, are expressive of the Florentine temper when Pulci and Politian are distorted echoes of another; Perugino leads us into the recesses of Perugia while Graziani keeps us fumbling at the lock. And Perugino's languorous boys and maids are the figments of a riotous erotic, of a sensuous fancy without imagination or intelligence or humour. His Alcibiades, or Michael Archangel, seems green-sick with a love mainly physical; his Socrates has the combed resignation ...
— Earthwork Out Of Tuscany • Maurice Hewlett

... see," replied Solomon, as, somewhat to Mr Perkins's astonishment, they found the oak sported. Having made a selection from a huge bunch of keys, the porter succeeded, after some fumbling, in getting the door open. The room bore no traces of recent occupation. Three or four broken chairs and a rickety table were the only furniture: as far as the light of Solomon's lantern could penetrate, it looked the very picture ...
— Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 58, Number 358, August 1845 • Various

... clumsily this time to kiss the hem of her skirt, but she stepped aside quickly, fumbling meanwhile in her purse for a ...
— The Ne'er-Do-Well • Rex Beach

... recess, one of many in the cave, and I followed him. There were boxes there, tea chests, cartridge cases, and old brass-ribbed Portuguese coffers. Laputa had keys at his belt, and unlocked them, his fingers fumbling with weakness. I peered in and saw gold coin ...
— Prester John • John Buchan

... to his feet, and as his thin lips parted into a forced, uncomprehending smile, Harry struck him with his fist, full in the face. Before Harry could draw back Shuter had seized him by the throat, and was fumbling in his pocket for an old sailor's knife which he was always known to carry; but before he could draw it he was swung violently off his feet and brought down with a thud on the table. He was little better than ...
— A Lover in Homespun - And Other Stories • F. Clifford Smith

... Saluting with one hand, fumbling at his buttons with the other, Watson marched into the customs house, while the populace waited agape; but he returned very soon to report that the building was untenanted. Captain Montgomery frowned. He ...
— Port O' Gold • Louis John Stellman

... What, and have your name prostituted in a public court; yours and your daughter's reputation worried at the bar by a pack of bawling lawyers? To be ushered in with an OH YES of scandal, and have your case opened by an old fumbling leacher in a quoif like a man midwife; to bring your daughter's infamy to light; to be a theme for legal punsters and quibblers by the statute; and become a jest, against a rule of court, where there is no precedent for a jest in any record, not even in Doomsday ...
— The Way of the World • William Congreve

... from the depths of the vessel, and were not very musical in themselves, broke on the silence like the first discordant strains of a new practitioner on a bugle. But even these interruptions gradually grew less frequent, and finally became inaudible. At length the Rover heard a hand fumbling about the handle of the cabin door, and then his military friend once more made ...
— The Red Rover • James Fenimore Cooper

... and that I must give it to you before I could get my trunk. Mr. Gray is Mrs. Gray's husband. They're cousins of Deacon Carr's wife. I came East with them, and they're lovely! And—there, here 'tis," she finished, producing the check after much fumbling in the ...
— Pollyanna • Eleanor H. Porter

... to get to Dijon tonight," Uncle John said. "Can you tell us, sir, if we shall have any difficulty?" The American did not bother to raise his hat or any fuss, but just got out of his car and told the facts to Uncle John; and then he turned to the chauffeur, who was fumbling with the tyre—it was something complicated, not only just the bursting—and in a minute or two he was down in the mud giving such practical advice. And you never heard such slang! But I believe men like that sort of thing, as ...
— Elizabeth Visits America • Elinor Glyn

... increase of fifty thousand men for the Navy Mr. GEORGE LAMBERT solemnly announced that the Admiralty was "fumbling with a magnificent weapon." It is distressing to think that a body which for nearly ten years enjoyed his services as Civil Lord should have deteriorated so rapidly since he ...
— Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 153, Dec. 19, 1917 • Various

... approached a trifle too near, when all at once the bear whipped an arm about him, took him to his embrace, and "went through" his pockets in a hurry. The terrified face of the struggling and screaming fop, and the good-natured, businesslike expression of the fumbling and munching beast, offered the funniest sort ...
— The Youth's Companion - Volume LII, Number 11, Thursday, March 13, 1879 • Various

... there came the faint, irregular stroke that foretold the stopping of the bell, and the boys moved quickly towards the entrance, and began to jostle one another in their haste. On reaching the door, however, much fumbling and ...
— Jack of Both Sides - The Story of a School War • Florence Coombe

... fumbling in her pocket for her purse, Cimme stopped her, and, turning to the maid: "Have ...
— Maupassant Original Short Stories (180), Complete • Guy de Maupassant

... looked down and smiled. They were walking together arm in arm, and he was fumbling with the little bunch of ...
— Soldiers of the Queen • Harold Avery

... the front stairway, hearing renewed clamor from the rear and cries of rage and pain from the second story. In fumbling for the front door he found a hat, and, having lost his own, placed it upon his head, drew his inverness about his shoulders, and went quickly out. A moment later he slipped the catch in the wall door and stepped ...
— The Port of Missing Men • Meredith Nicholson

... last the Sun! I write these lines, Here on my knees, with feeble, fumbling hand. Look! in yon mountain cleft a radiance shines, Gleam of a primrose — see it thrill, expand, Grow glorious. Dear God be praised! it streams Into the cabin in a gush of gold. Look! there she stands, the angel of my dreams, ...
— Rhymes of a Rolling Stone • Robert W. Service

... gave your fortune to the cause of freedom," she supplemented, fumbling in her chatelaine bag for her purse. "Here it is. The contents are yours until ...
— The Day of the Dog • George Barr McCutcheon

... when I was awakened from a refreshing sleep by somebody fumbling with a key at the lock of my door. Several bungling attempts were made before the key was fitted into the lock successfully. At last, Balder walked into my room. He presented rather a comical appearance, with his crush-hat on one side of his head like the leaning tower of Pisa, and a ...
— The Idler Magazine, Vol III. May 1893 - An Illustrated Monthly • Various

... purty! I'm gitting almighty tired, just setting here lettin' m' legs hang down. Git your ropes, boys!" With one sweeping gesture of his arm Big Medicine made plain his meaning as he rode a few paces away, his fingers fumbling with the string that held his rope. "I'm goin' to have a look at 'em, anyway," he grinned. "I sure do hate to see ...
— Flying U Ranch • B. M. Bower

... for you," she murmured, and began fumbling in her lap. "Where are they?" she asked bewilderedly. "They are ...
— Polly of Lady Gay Cottage • Emma C. Dowd

... you do?" exclaimed Peggy, attempting to conceal her surprise under an effusive cordiality. "Come right in." But Rosetta Muriel was not to be hurried. She closed her umbrella, righted her hat, and began fumbling in a little beaded bag which dangled from her wrist. All the heads were turned wonderingly toward the open door before she produced the object of her search, a gilt-edged card, upon which was written with many elaborate flourishes, ...
— Peggy Raymond's Vacation - or Friendly Terrace Transplanted • Harriet L. (Harriet Lummis) Smith

... suggested that it would be well to give the child some paregoric to relieve it from the intense pain from which it was evidently suffering. The medicine stood upon the bureau, but Mrs. Fogg had to go down stairs to the dining-room to get some sugar; and while she was fumbling about in the entry in the dark it occurred to Mr. Fogg that he had heard of persons being relieved from pain by applications of mesmerism. He had no notion that he could exercise such power; but while musing upon the ...
— Elbow-Room - A Novel Without a Plot • Charles Heber Clark (AKA Max Adeler)

... too mad with the desire to make an end of Leroux to accompany her. I wanted to go back. I tried to find the bolt of the door in the gloom, but while my fingers were fumbling for it Jacqueline came running back ...
— Jacqueline of Golden River • H. M. Egbert

... him?" replied Schlangenwald, fixing his look on the eager countenance of the youth, while his hand, with a dying man's nervous agitation, was fumbling at his belt. ...
— The Dove in the Eagle's Nest • Charlotte M. Yonge

... turning to the table. The boy played there, fumbling with the yellow forms. Tolliver glanced at the top one. He called out quickly to the ...
— The Best Short Stories of 1920 - and the Yearbook of the American Short Story • Various

... With fumbling and untrained hands she drew it to her, and pressed it against her breast. With the touch of the small body at her heart, the dawn crept back into the room, and from afar ...
— Joyce of the North Woods • Harriet T. Comstock

... that when I could not get the gun to go off? After a while I thought of making some tinder paper, and then trying to 'touch off' the piece with it, but a far better plan at that moment came into my head. While I was fumbling about my bullet-pouch to get at my flint and steel, of course my fingers came into contact with the lasso, which was still hanging around my shoulders. It was this that suggested my plan, which was no other than to lasso the bull, and tie ...
— Popular Adventure Tales • Mayne Reid

... audience forgot themselves in murmurs of applause, rising beyond decorum, and once into a storm of approbation; then his timidity returned, he became self-conscious, fumbling with the white cowl that hung partly over his face, forgetting that it was not a hat, and gravely taking it ...
— A Golden Book of Venice • Mrs. Lawrence Turnbull

... original, without which no artist can ever produce those subtle nuances which give the full sense of life. After which, if I say, that my aim is not to copy, but to interpret and transfigure, I suppose I shall again seem to be self-contradictory. But that, again, must be put down to my fumbling pen-strokes. ...
— Ghetto Comedies • Israel Zangwill

... had—easily for the moment, but one day I happened to be in the Post Office getting my mail when, amongst a bunch of letters on the counter I saw one addressed to 'Gavin Blake, Esq., Governor of Barmsworth Prison, England.' Old Kelly, the postmaster, having his back to me at the time, fumbling around the pigeon-holes, I promptly annexed this letter and slipped it into ...
— The Luck of the Mounted - A Tale of the Royal Northwest Mounted Police • Ralph S. Kendall

... very stiff and proud. He awed me. I stood before him fumbling my hat. Said I to myself: "The personage before me is more than a snag-boat captain. This is none other than the gentleman who invented the Missouri River. No doubt even now he carries the ...
— The River and I • John G. Neihardt

... Could he meet her without giving her the impression that he was a conceited ass? He had met her. She was waiting for him in the garden, and by dint of starting the conversation in loud tones from a distance, and fumbling a few moments with the tennis balls before approaching her, he had come through the encounter without too ...
— Clayhanger • Arnold Bennett

... cabin! Perhaps he had been hurt, or perhaps, even, that ruffian was mistreating him. With one accord they broke for the cabin, making for where a thin pencil of light hinted at a door. They wasted no time fumbling for the knob, but put all the strength of ...
— The Boy Scouts of the Air on Lost Island • Gordon Stuart

... fetters of iron"? Moreover, was it not Solomon who wrote: "Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry"? And is not my soul hungry for gold and the Regicides' discomfiture?' Peters was still fumbling after texts when the final argument: 'Deliver thy money, or I will send thee out of the world!' frightened him into submission, and thirty broad ...
— A Book of Scoundrels • Charles Whibley

... say, I had read for a couple of hours, when, suddenly, I heard a sound that made me lower my book, and listen, intently. It was a noise of something rubbing and fumbling against the back door. Once the door creaked, loudly; as though force were being applied to it. During those few, short moments, I experienced an indescribable feeling of terror, such as I should have believed impossible. My hands shook; a cold sweat broke out ...
— The House on the Borderland • William Hope Hodgson

... what he wanted was his hand upon a gun or in a grip of death about that black throat! Yet he lay as still as if the vibrations of the bell were upon him, and his eyes held unwaveringly upon the savage face, until he felt the fumbling of ...
— Astounding Stories, March, 1931 • Various

... likeness departed from him. When the momentary red had passed, Horrocks saw a charred, blackened figure, its head streaked with blood, still clutching and fumbling with the chain, and writhing in agony—a cindery animal, an inhuman, monstrous creature that began a ...
— The Country of the Blind, And Other Stories • H. G. Wells

... Boltwood was uninterestedly fumbling in his money pocket. Behind Milt Daggett, Claire shook her head wildly, rattling her hands as though she were playing castanets. Mr. Boltwood shrugged. He did not understand. His relations with young men in cheap raincoats ...
— Free Air • Sinclair Lewis

... heart confess in plainness of speech the truth of the fact to his brother Moses, but faulteringly: They gave me their gold, saith he, and "I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf" (Exo 32:24). "And there came out this calf"; a pitiful fumbling speech: The Holy Ghost saith, Aaron had made them naked; "had made them naked unto their shame," for he, as also Adam, should, being chief and lord in their place, have stoutly resisted the folly and sin which was to them ...
— The Works of John Bunyan • John Bunyan

... and began to run back, fumbling in his pocket for his electric torch. Almost in the same moment that he found it he stumbled upon Peters, who lay half in the road ...
— Tales of Chinatown • Sax Rohmer

... Fumbling inside of the hat band, he came upon a little package of half a dozen matches, still securely wrapped in the oiled silk in which he had placed ...
— The Ranger Boys and the Border Smugglers • Claude A. Labelle

... still groping with amazement, and her hands rose with a fumbling uncertainty until the touch of their fingers fell upon the bosom from which the drapery had been torn, and instinctively gathered it again over her breast ...
— The Tyranny of Weakness • Charles Neville Buck

... me in entire charge. It is quite true that I have pronounced views as to the preparation and serving of food, and I dare say I embarrassed the worthy fellow without at all meaning to do so, for too many of his culinary efforts betray the fumbling touch of the amateur. And as I worked over the open fire, doing the trout to a turn, stirring the beans, and perfecting the stew with deft touches of seasoning, I worded to myself for the first time ...
— Ruggles of Red Gap • Harry Leon Wilson

... that I shall ever have consumption?" fumbling for my handkerchief, forgetting in whose possession it was. Charles came in at that instant, and I remembered that ...
— The Morgesons • Elizabeth Stoddard

... absence. She fancied the light pouring through the chink and then shut in again with all the safety and comfort and joy, her husband taking down the fiddle and playing lightly with his head inclined, playing while she sang, while she sang for her life to an Indian Devil. Then she knew he was fumbling for and finding some shining fragment and scoring it down the yellowing hair, and unconsciously her voice forsook the wild war-tunes and drifted into the half-gay, half-melancholy Rosin ...
— Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 5, No. 31, May, 1860 • Various

... young man, fumbling the coin in his pockets and listening in a dazed state of appreciation at the unexpected resources ...
— Vesty of the Basins • Sarah P. McLean Greene

... to where Ruba was fumbling the ship into more definite action. "Go on and talk," he bade her. "I give ...
— The Devil's Asteroid • Manly Wade Wellman

... difficult red ribbon on this," said Mr. Linton, fumbling with it. "I can't undo it." He smiled at little ...
— Captain Jim • Mary Grant Bruce

... him up, fumbling in the darkness, and laid him on the ground beside his bed. Then Vane took her arm, and shouted in her ear, "Lie down, I tell you, lie down . . . quite flat." Obediently she lay down, and he stretched himself beside ...
— Mufti • H. C. (Herman Cyril) McNeile

... if he hadn't come down to Seattle already." He stopped, fumbling with the pin, and threw open the wicket. "I guess I ain't changed much more'n ...
— The Rim of the Desert • Ada Woodruff Anderson

... set a pace that brought the two to the door of the sheriff's office quickly. A light shone through the window and when Allen opened the door Watkins was sitting beside his desk, gravely fumbling a deck of cards. He dropped them when he saw his visitors and made a quick movement with his right hand toward his revolver. But ...
— The Coming of the Law • Charles Alden Seltzer

... beat against her face. Then Tarrano had her in his arms, carrying her. She heard him curse as a sudden wave of fire seemed to strike them—hostile rays bringing a numbness to muscles and brain. Tarrano was fumbling at his belt; and through a shower of sparks he ...
— Tarrano the Conqueror • Raymond King Cummings

... of dark and narrow stairs, which was no easy feat for an elderly gentleman of his bulk. As he reached the second landing, panting and breathless, he found himself in violent contact with another person, who, like himself, seemed to be fumbling for ...
— Ilka on the Hill-Top and Other Stories • Hjalmar Hjorth Boyesen

... the most trying circumstances, was putting her articles in a bag, the initials on which she did not recognize—H. L. S.—Honora Leffingwell Spence; while old Catherine, tearful and inefficient, knelt before her, fumbling at her shoes. Honora, bending over, took the face of the faithful old ...
— The Crossing • Winston Churchill

... the girl asked ungraciously, after a minute spent in fumbling unseen hairpins and in straightening her hat. "I don't know why you're standing there like that, staring at me. I don't ...
— The Uphill Climb • B. M. Bower

... that pocket-book, and ring for Mrs. Davies,' he would say in so casual a way that of course you would ring. On Mrs. Davies's appearance he would be fumbling about among the papers in his pocket-book, and presently he would say, with a look of frustration that went to one's heart—'I've got a ten-pound note somewhere here for you, Mrs. Davies, to pay you up till Saturday, but somehow I seem to have lost it. Yet it must be somewhere about. ...
— Prose Fancies (Second Series) • Richard Le Gallienne

... excitement and embarrassment which caused him to turn aside with his hand on the curtain, and to examine intently for several moments the portrait of a lady, optimistically said by Mrs. Hilbery to be an early work of Sir Joshua Reynolds. Then, with some unnecessary fumbling, he drew aside the curtain, and with his eyes fixed upon the ground, repeated his message and suggested that they should all spend the evening at the play. Katharine accepted the suggestion with such ...
— Night and Day • Virginia Woolf

... Chris Jones, fumbling with his wallet, "only I happened to be the Toreador myself. But you can have the same old five francs back, an' be ...
— Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 156, April 30, 1919 • Various

... will attend to the stomach and the upper part of body. He will be dead before we are done with him. We must remember that society has some claim on us, and not let our better natures be worked upon by the post mortem promises of a dead drunkard.' Then I took my icicle and began fumbling around the abdomen portion of Pa's remains, and my chum took a rough piece of ice and began to saw his leg off, while the other boy took hold of the leg and said he would catch it when it dropped off. Well, Pa kicked like a steer. He said he wanted to make one more appeal to us, and we ...
— Peck's Compendium of Fun • George W. Peck

... John,' said Gashford, fumbling with his gloves. 'Let him go on. I can make allowances, Sir John. I am honoured with your good opinion, and I can dispense with Mr Haredale's. Mr Haredale is a sufferer from the penal laws, and I can't ...
— Barnaby Rudge • Charles Dickens

... noiselessly stepped into the hall and went upstairs. After some fumbling he unbolted the door and tiptoed into the room, where Preston lay like a log. The fortnight had changed him markedly. There was no longer any prospect that he would sink under his disease, as Sommers had half expected. He had grown stouter, and his flesh had a healthy tint. "It will ...
— The Web of Life • Robert Herrick

... no more. He sat fumbling with a napkin, his eyes cast down. He dared not lift them to Shirley's, lest he see there a truth he had not the courage to face just then. After a little he rose, went to ...
— The House of Toys • Henry Russell Miller

... exclamationpoint. "Writers." To underline his confidence the boneshaking chatter of pneumatic chisels began a syncopated rattle. Military directness would accomplish in one swift, decisive stroke at the heart of things what civilian fumbling around the ...
— Greener Than You Think • Ward Moore

... of it. You're quite right. Try some of this,"—as he began fumbling meaningly with a black stump ...
— Pearl of Pearl Island • John Oxenham

... money, holding out their wooden bowls, or clattering with their sticks on the stones, or pulling your coat-skirts and moaning and whining; yonder sit a group of coal-black Coptish pilgrims, with robes and turbans of dark blue, fumbling their perpetual beads. A party of Arab Christians have come up from their tents or villages: the men half-naked, looking as if they were beggars, or banditti, upon occasion; the women have flung their head-cloths back, and are looking at the strangers under their ...
— Notes on a Journey from Cornhill to Grand Cairo • William Makepeace Thackeray

... seem puzzled, and would then call me Arthur. At last, when he became vexed, and said angrily that I was behaving worse than Hugh, I recalled Dr. Rush's advice, and humouring his delusion, said, "Uncle, let me help you." Meanwhile he was fumbling nervously at the papers, tying and untying the same bundle, which seemed to be ...
— Hugh Wynne, Free Quaker • S. Weir Mitchell

... shirt, and passed his fingers, after the manner of some animal, over his cracker-strewn beard, in recognition of a cleanly public sentiment. But, even as he did so, the weak smile faded from his lips; and his hand, after fumbling aimlessly around a button, dropped helplessly at his side. For as he leaned his back against the bar, and faced the group, he, for the first time, became aware that every eye but one was fixed upon him. His quick, nervous apprehension at once leaped to ...
— Tales of the Argonauts • Bret Harte

... he was laughing softly as a boy in the midst of a prank, and busily throwing off the robe of serge. Fumbling through the night he located the shirt and overalls he had seen hanging from a nail on the wall. Into these he slipped, leaned to kiss the chill, damp forehead of the sleeper, and then went out under ...
— Riders of the Silences • John Frederick

... little official, and as he spoke he emerged from his house and stood beside me on the platform fumbling among his railway guides. "The first question is, do you propose to take a de facto train or ...
— Further Foolishness • Stephen Leacock

... man. Harold stood motionless, his gun half raised and ready for instant action. Hugh and Bob looked on, fascinated. When about thirty yards distant the man stooped and appeared to be fumbling with something at his feet. Only for a moment, however, for he soon straightened up again and proceeded ...
— Bob Cook and the German Spy • Tomlinson, Paul Greene

... and wild-looking just then, that it was not easy to judge what he was like. His voice was pleasant, and she did not feel at all afraid of him. The tea seemed to revive him a little, for, after lying quiet a while with his eyes closed, he sat up, and, fumbling with his left hand in an inner pocket, produced a flat parcel tied in stout paper, with a direction written upon it; and, beckoning Eyebright to ...
— Eyebright - A Story • Susan Coolidge

... still vacantly smiling, was fumbling at his breast pocket. He began to talk incoherently in good, nasal New York, at the mere sound of which Lady Anstruthers made a ...
— The Shuttle • Frances Hodgson Burnett

... look somewhat awkward for the humble flower wilting on the marble step, until her friend, speaking suddenly and sharply, saved the situation by leaning down and quite violently snatching something from the little hand fumbling most awkwardly among ...
— Desert Love • Joan Conquest

... "Miss, Miss!" said Betty, fumbling for a pin, and in her hurry not being able to find one. Once more Miss Bessy was what soldiers call in marching order, and they made, may be, a hundred paces, without any other difficulty but the falling of the rain, though as yet it was only the ...
— The Fairchild Family • Mary Martha Sherwood

... that," said Peterkin, fumbling in his trousers pocket, from which he drew forth a small penknife with only one ...
— The Coral Island - A Tale Of The Pacific Ocean • R. M. Ballantyne

... drawn, but with the breaking of the window they began to flap about. With the iron grating he had picked up from the drain below the window young Trevert smashed the rest of the glass away, then thrust an arm through the empty window-frame, fumbling for ...
— The Yellow Streak • Williams, Valentine

... not a girl to push conversation where it was evidently not wanted, so the pair undressed in absolute silence. From Honor's cubicle came sounds that suggested that its occupant was fumbling with a key and unlocking a box, but as she did not volunteer any explanation, her room-mate made no comments. When Vivian arrived at half-past nine to switch out the light, ...
— The New Girl at St. Chad's - A Story of School Life • Angela Brazil

... need to tell Peggy to get the water canteen ready. Her busy little, fingers were fumbling with it. As they touched the ground she leaped nimbly from the chassis and sped over the burning desert floor to the side of the recumbent wayfarer. A second later Roy and Jess joined her. Very tenderly they turned the insensible man upon his back and ...
— The Girl Aviators on Golden Wings • Margaret Burnham

... everything. That's how I managed to get over to the Orkneys. These fellows that go up in balloons which they fit up like first-floor rooms, and take everything with them except a feather bed, don't know anything about it. They go fumbling around with a few pounds of ballast, and when they get into a wrong current there they stick. Now, between you and me, Mr. Smith, I don't mind telling you my secret of successful ballooning. Take as much ballast as ...
— Tales from Many Sources - Vol. V • Various

... turned from the easel to her desk, and was fumbling with papers there, her back turned to him. A half minute had passed since his last word... One word ...
— Fate Knocks at the Door - A Novel • Will Levington Comfort

... herself, to be sitting there crying over, like a rough-knuckled housewife whose man has stayed out all night in his cups? If he wanted to stay away that way, let him stay! And then she recalled his hand fumbling at the inner pocket of his coat, and the picture post-card which he had handed her at ...
— Claim Number One • George W. (George Washington) Ogden

... clanking music making din as they go. One of the negroes will add something to change the monotony. Fumbling beneath the seats for some minutes, he draws forth a little bag, carefully unties it, and presents his favourite violin. Its appearance gladdens the hearts of his comrades, who welcome it with smiling faces and loud applause. The instrument is of ...
— Our World, or, The Slaveholders Daughter • F. Colburn Adams

... ourselves each side of the little swarthy table. Mame is fumbling in her pocket. Now her lean hand, lumpy and dark, unroots itself. She produces a bit of cheese, scrapes it with a knife which she holds by the blade, and swallows it slowly. By the rays of the lamp, which ...
— Light • Henri Barbusse

... was gone. His mouth was parched and his mind dry. He could not think of a word to say; and, twisting and fumbling his cap, did not know how ...
— Trumps • George William Curtis

... Finally he stood upright on the rank, coarse grass and grinned at Monty, whose lean hands were outstretched towards him. He fumbled for a moment in his loin-cloth. Then he drew out a long bottle and handed it up. Trent stepped out as Monty's nervous fingers were fumbling with the cork. He made a grab at the boy who glided off like an eel. Instantly he whipped out a ...
— A Millionaire of Yesterday • E. Phillips Oppenheim

... Miller arose to his feet, and slowly and unwillingly he untied the mouth of the bag, and slowly thrust his hands into the meal and began fumbling about with his arms buried to the elbows in the barley flour. The others gathered round him, their heads together, looking and wondering ...
— The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood • Howard Pyle

... (fumbling with the packet of banknotes). Had I known, I'd not have come for the world. It's worse ...
— Redemption and Two Other Plays • Leo Tolstoy et al

... and stood fumbling with his great hands. "I didn't know that any one else had given him three months," he replied. "I based my estimate merely on my recollection of how he looked the last time I saw him. I am willing ...
— An Arkansas Planter • Opie Percival Read

... found his way blocked by Weasel-face. The islander's hand was fumbling at his belt. Gregory's fist snapped his head backward. The man's hands flew up, but not in time to block the vicious blow which caught ...
— El Diablo • Brayton Norton

... fumbling for the notes she did not expect to find, she went through all the agony of the little shawled foreign wife for the ...
— The Job - An American Novel • Sinclair Lewis

... is a command to me," answered Zachur, who was already fumbling in the sack, but for some time ...
— Harper's Young People, February 24, 1880 - An Illustrated Weekly • Various

... scene'. Forthwith he proceeds to offer advice to the actors about their behaviour: 'And this I bar, over and besides, that none of you stroke your beards to make action, play with your cod-piece points, or stand fumbling on your buttons, when you know not how to bestow your fingers. Serve God, and act cleanly.' Always his honesty exceeds his consideration for the feelings of others. Three clowns and three maids have barely ...
— The Growth of English Drama • Arnold Wynne

... have said," I began, fumbling the door-knob. "I suppose I was an ass to think that you might love me. They say that it is a malady. Very well. With a few prescribed remedies ...
— Arms and the Woman • Harold MacGrath

... come, Gaylord, you'll shake hands!" Fumbling in his pocket he drew out my telegram from the police commissioner, and tossed it onto the cot. "In the meantime there's something for you to think ...
— The Four Pools Mystery • Jean Webster

... said Lady Newhaven, her hands fumbling under her crape cloak. "I've come to tell you that you ...
— Red Pottage • Mary Cholmondeley

... resentment rose. She spoke with dignity: "I begged you to be serious, Paul, and to try to understand what I mean, although I'm so fumbling, and say it so badly. As for its being impossible to change things, I've heard you say a great many times that there are no conditions that can't be changed ...
— The Squirrel-Cage • Dorothy Canfield

... her mute command. What was it? He saw her wish streaming from her eyes. Despair! Despair! Despair! There is no hope for thee, wretched earthworm! No abode but the abysmal House of Satan! Despair, and you will be welcomed! By a violent act of volition, set in motion by his fingers fumbling a small gold cross he wore as a watch-guard, the heady fumes ...
— Visionaries • James Huneker

... her head. But at last, with a quivering, long-drawn breath, she moved stumblingly across towards the window. The room appeared to her stiflingly hot. Her face burned, and her temples throbbed as though a couple of relentless hammers were beating inside her head. With fumbling, nerveless fingers she unfastened the catch of the window and threw it open, letting in the cool autumnal breeze. She leaned out thankfully, drawing in deep breaths of the clean, salt-laden air. It seemed to lave her face, washing away ...
— The Vision of Desire • Margaret Pedler

... oar, and fumbling in his pockets, pulled out a small magnifying-glass. He bent over, holding to the rail, and inspected the stains with the glass. I had taken a fancy to him at once, and in spite of my excitement I had to smile ...
— The Case of Jennie Brice • Mary Roberts Rinehart

... to be quite incapable of hurrying, and Kitty, who could harness or unharness a horse as well as any one, had to help him. She fastened the trace on one side, buckled up the girths, and finally clambered up into the carriage while Jabez was still fumbling with the bit and the reins. She caught the braid of her frock in the step as she mounted, and ripped down many inches of it, but that did not trouble her ...
— Kitty Trenire • Mabel Quiller-Couch

... appeared again, and Taine was yards away, crawling and fumbling for Baird. Then he saw him, and rose and rushed, and the clankings of his shoe-soles were loud. Baird flung himself at Taine in a ...
— The Aliens • Murray Leinster

... is our one hope," he said; and untying himself with awkward fumbling fingers from the kinked rope, and coiling the spare rope about his shoulders, he went down the slope. During the night the steps had frozen and in many places it was necessary to recut them. He too was stiff with the long vigil. He moved slowly, with numbed and frozen limbs. But ...
— Running Water • A. E. W. Mason

... huge frame into an arm-chair. "Come, habeas corpus, habeas corpus. Now, if we had Alphonse here," he continued, "he could repeat the whole writ in Latin. Habeas corpus, habeas corpus," muttered the puzzled savage, fumbling in his brains for the context, "habeas corpus, habeas corpus;—" then, relinquishing the vain search, and addressing himself to the woman, at the same time elevating his voice, he vociferated: "Hillo, come, lady sheriff, bring up the body of your prisoner, I say;" when, as ...
— The Advocate • Charles Heavysege



Words linked to "Fumbling" :   bungling, clumsy, unskilled



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