General English

Cars & Driving

  • noun a characteristic, low-pitched noise made by worn main bearings


  • An unwanted low frequency vibration which is audible. For example, the vibrations of a platter and motor of a phonograph turntable.
  • A quantified level of rumble (1).


  • noun a fight, especially a planned streetfight or brawl involving gangs. An American expression used by teenage neighbourhood gangs since the 1950s, the word has subsequently been picked up in other English-speaking areas.
  • verb to fight. The word, like the noun form, originated in the slang of American urban gangs of the 1950s. It has since been appropriated and generalised by other adolescents in the USA, UK and Australia.
  • verb to uncover (a deception), to be disabused. Now a fairly widespread colloquialism, rumble, like ‘tumble’, in this sense originated in the 19th century. Rumble probably derives from the archaic ‘romboyle’, meaning to search for a wanted fugitive or suspect (a 17th-century term of unknown origin).