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Looking for a verb that describes the action that sometimes precedes a thing falling from your hands. It looks like juggling or bouncing, but I’m not sure if those words fit in the following context:

“The phone _____ in her hand, before falling to the ground.”

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    She may have fumbled the phone, but did the darn thing do any juggling or bouncing of its own? Oct 19, 2021 at 14:02
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    wobbled, teetered, danced around, jiggled ... I wouldn't object to reading bounced but I concur with @YosefBaskin on the unacceptability of juggled. Oct 19, 2021 at 14:25
  • M-W does have "to hold or balance precariously" for juggle and the dictionary.com definition of bobble seems to support this sense. Perhaps like someone's first attempt at juggling?
    – DjinTonic
    Oct 19, 2021 at 17:03
  • @DjinTonic The phone may have been juggled in her hand or she may have juggled it in her hand but unless than phone was systematically throwing and catching miniature bowling pins or it somehow rearranged a busy schedule of appointments or a tight budget to fit in one more item, it did not juggle in her hand and juggle does not fit the context sentence given in the question. Oct 20, 2021 at 5:13
  • @Smartybartfast I wouldn't use juggle here either. I was pointing out that the dictionary.com definition of bobble uses to juggle and was trying to imagine how it could apply. Juggle is something intentional to me.
    – DjinTonic
    Oct 20, 2021 at 10:04

1 Answer 1

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The phone bobbled in her hand, before falling to the ground.

bobble (v)

1: BOB
2: FUMBLE m-w

North American [with object] Mishandle (a ball) Lexico

To juggle or fumble (a batted or thrown baseball) momentarily, usually resulting in an error. dictionary.com

To drop or almost drop a ball that you are trying to catch or stop Cambridge


Edmund's hand scraped against a ring of keys, still dangling from the lock. He wrenched them out. They bobbled in his hand and fell somewhere to the unseen floor with an echoing clatter. Robert Evert; Riddle in Stone

I smirked and tossed another bear at him, which he bobbled in his hands, dropping his mobile then bashing his head on the tabletop when he bent to pick it up, and almost falling off his chair when he pulled back, overcompensating. Erik Schubach; Flotilla

It bobbled in his hand nearly dropping, but he was able to snatch it before it crashed to the floor. MJ Fletcher; The Cartographer's Compass

He didn't drop his sword but his grip on it weakened and it bobbled in his hand. Christopher Pike; Red Queen

A bobble is formed by adding several stiches onto an unsuspecting stitch, working them back and forth and...

Even the word bobble doesn't bode well. It means to make a mess of something, to mishandle it. When a horse makes a misstep before a race, it's called a bobble. Likewise, an athlete bobbles when fumbling the ball. To bobble is to lose one's grip, which is what many people think you've done when you start adding bobbles to everything. I certainly thought so. Clara Parkes; The Yarn Whisperer: My Unexpected Life in Knitting

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  • Is that geography specific? I've never heard that verb (EN-AU native). I have heard of a "bobble" as a type of hair tie (a long time ago).
    – Kingsley
    Oct 20, 2021 at 3:50
  • @Kingsley "North American [with object] Mishandle (a ball)" Looks like it.
    – nick012000
    Oct 20, 2021 at 4:51
  • @Kingsley The OED also labels this sense as U.S.
    – DjinTonic
    Oct 20, 2021 at 11:16
  • @DjinTonic Uh… hardly… Oct 24, 2021 at 19:12

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