Green’s Dictionary of Slang

tumble v.1

[SE tumble, to cause to fall]

1. to seduce, to have sexual intercourse; thus tumbling n., sexual intercourse.

[UK]Hickscorner Aiii: imagy: Sayest thou that my moder was a hore. frewyll: I sawe syr Johne and she tombled on the flore.
[UK]Skelton Speke Parott line 412: galathea: Our clerke Cleros. Whythyr, thydyr and why not hethyr? For passe-a-Pase ys gone to catche a molle [...] What sequele shall follow? [...] parotte: To jumbyll, to stombyll, to tumbyll down lyke folys; [...] He maketh them to bere babylles.
J. Bale Eng. Votaries Pt 2 G5v: He fel to her by force, wrastlinge and tumbling with her for the best game.
[UK]U. Fulwell Like Will to Like 6: If my dame and thou hast been tumbling by the ears, As ofttimes you do, like a couple of great bears.
[UK]‘W.S.’ Lamentable Tragedie of Locrine III iv: What reason had you when my sister was in the barne to tumble her vpon the haie, and to fish her belly.
[UK]Dekker & Webster Westward Hoe II ii: Sheele not sleepe then but tumble, and if she might haue it to night, it would better please her.
[UK]Rowlands ‘A Whoremonger’ Knave of Clubs 5: One night, kind Jone [...] she stript off all, / And coming like a wench of willing sprite / To doe her Maisters busines in the night, Such tumbling in the bed (belike) did keepe, / She wak’d her quiet Mistris out of sleepe.
[UK]Fletcher Monsieur Thomas (1639) V v: I’le tumble with ye straight wench: she sleeps soundly, Full little thinkst thou of thy joy that’s comming.
‘The Run-away’s Answer’ in Carroll Fat King Lean Beggar (1996) 63: Tumbling [...] in a hay-cock with his Dell.
[UK]Ford Fancies Act IV: I will never more tumble in sheets with thee, I will father no misbegotten of thine.
[UK]The Wandering Jew 24: Bawdes I kicke, Punkes I tumble.
[UK]T. Randolph Hey for Honesty III iii: The wenches I’ll tumble and merrily jumble.
[UK] ‘Concealment’ in Ebsworth Merry Drollery Compleat (1875) II 152: [She] loves me more [...] Since last we tumbled in the dark.
[UK] ‘Song’ Covent Garden Drollery 39: Agreed we lay’d down and tumbled Till both were weary of play, Though I spent a full share, Yet by Cupid I swear, I came off with a ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.
[UK]Scudamore Homer Alamode Pt 2 73: Achilles on a Bench Lay all Night tumbling with his Wench.
[UK]Vanbrugh Provoked Wife V i: My innocent lady, to wriggle herself out at the back door of the business, turns marriage bawd to her niece, and resolves to deliver up her fair body to be tumbled and mumbled by that young liqourish whipster.
[UK]Humours of a Coffee-House 10 Sept. 24: I so Handl’d her, Fondl’d her, Kiss’d her, Coax’d her, Tickl’d her, and Tumbl’d her, that at last I made her promise me I should lie with her all Night.
[UK]S. Centlivre Artifice Act I: I pass with her for as arrant a Rustick, as ever [...] tumbled a Girl upon a Hay mow.
[UK]Delightful Adventures of Honest John Cole 16: Thus he went on many Days, tumbling over all the Girls.
[UK]Teague-Root Display’d 16: They are as much inflamed, as a School-Boy, when he first tumbles his Mother’s Maid in a Hay-Cock.
[UK]Scoundrel’s Dict. 25: Hug in the Dark, and kiss and play [...] And tumble when i’ th’ Barn we meet.
[Ire]K. O’Hara Midas II i: Oh how happy I should be Would little Nysa pig with me [...] How I’d mumble her, / Touze and tumble her / Would little Nysa pig with me.
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (3rd edn) 4: What priest beside thyself e’er grumbl’d / To have his daughter tightly tumbl’d?
[UK]Harris’s List of Covent-Garden Ladies 83: She constantly smiles on her doating dear puff / And thinks he can never be tumbled enough.
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (4th edn) 7: [as cit. 1772].
[Scot]W. Tennant Anster Fair V xlviii 121: Lay Tommy Puck [...] And Mrs Puck his gentle lady dear, / Basking and lolling in the lunar ray / And tumbling up and down in brisk fantastic play.
[Ire]‘A Real Paddy’ Real Life in Ireland 51: [name of a prostitute] Fanny Tumbleup from Ballyshag.
[UK] ‘The Original ‘Black Joke’’ Rambler’s Flash Songster 19: The bishop, in his pontifical gown, / Will tumble another Susannah down.
[UK]Peeping Tom (London) 12 48/2: A B. fell in love with a beautiful Rose; / ‘Touch me not,’ said the Rose, ‘for you’ll tumble me’.
[US]Life in Boston & N.Y. (Boston, MA) 1 Oct. n.p.: A place for half a dozen of both sexes to hug, squeeze and tumble each other on the stairs.
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 706: I gave my eyes that look with my hair a bit loose from the tumbling and my tongue between my lips up to him the savage brute.
[UK]J. Curtis There Ain’t No Justice 250: Feed her well, take her along and show her a couple of real men knocking the hell out of each other and then, oh boy, was she good when you tumbled her?
[US] in Randolph & Legman Ozark Folksongs and Folklore (1992) I 77: Come all pretty maids, take warning from me, / Don’t never trust a jolly boy an inch above your knee. / He’ll tumble you and screw you until he is done.
[UK]J. Arden Live Like Pigs Act I: So rob their houses, tumble their girls, / Break their windows and all.
[US] ‘The Mormon Cowboy’ G. Logsdon Whorehouse Bells Were Ringing (1995) 40: She wallowed him, she tumbled him, she rolled him all over the bed.
[UK]A. Bennett Habeus Corpus Act I: I see it all. His ruse I rumble: That spotless girl he means to tumble.
[UK]J. Morton Lowspeak.
[UK]Guardian Rev. 11 Sept. 9: The particular word in question begins with f, has four letters, and describes an act of intimate sexual behaviour whose many synonyms include [...] tumble.

2. to murder.

[US]C. Cooper Jr Syndicate (1998) 111: Horvat got tumbled with poison.

3. (Aus.) to confuse, to throw off balance.

[Aus]Tupper & Wortley Aus. Prison Sl. Gloss. 🌐 Tumble. To allow oneself easily to be provoked.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

tumble-a-bed (n.) [her stereotypical availability]

a chambermaid.

[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
[[Aus]Benjamin & Pearl Limericks Down Under 70: A hooker who worked the Gold Coast / Said ‘I’ve struck it richer than most, / I’ve tumbled the beds, / Southport to Tweed Heads. / I’ve been hostess, I’d say, to a host’].
tumble-turd (n.) [18C US regional dial. tumble-turd, a large black beetle that rolls and buries pieces of dung]

(W.I.) a short, stocky person.

[WI]cited in Cassidy & LePage Dict. Jam. Eng. (1980).

In phrases

tumble down (to grass) (v.) [the image of once cultivated fields returning to grass]

to go to rack and ruin.

[[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 15 Nov. 98/1: Webb, as the theves’ slang goes, ‘tumbled down in his luck’].
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 12 Jan. 15/1: [O]nce when she fell sick the tribe thought she had had a pretty good innings, and were on the point of burying her alive [...] when we rescued her. However, she ‘tumbled down’ soon after, and we saw them doubling her up and cracking her knees.
[UK]J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era 251/1: Tumbling down to grass (Peoples’, 1884) Equivalent to going to the bad. Breaking up, failing: From the fact of land going out of cultivation 1875–85.
tumble up (v.) (orig. naut.)

1. to rush, to hurry.

[UK]D. Jerrold Men of Character I 274: ‘Here, tumble up!’ and Runnymede scrambled from the plank to the deck.
[US]R.H. Dana Two Years before the Mast (1992) 76: Tumble up here, men! tumble up!
F. Douglass Bondage and Freedom 104: The overseer comes dashing through the field. ‘Tumble up! Tumble up, and to work, work,’ is the cry.
[UK]M.E. Braddon Trail of the Serpent 211: Come, Dick, tumble up.
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.

2. to rise from bed.

[US]Melville Moby Dick (1907) 150: Eight bells there below! Tumble up!
[UK]B. Patterson Life in the Ranks 114: The majority of men will ‘tumble up,’ and hastily folding [...] their beds, will be at once ready to turn out for parade.
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
[US]C.E. Mulford Bar-20 Days 23: Tumble up here, you blasted loafers!