To clamber is to climb awkwardly. Hamlet's Ophelia was said to have been clambering on a weak branch of a willow when she met her "muddy death." It's never a good idea to clamber, let alone on weak willow branches.

We associate the word clamber far more often with toddlers (than Shakespearean tragedy). Toddlers are known for naturally clumsy, ill-coordinated movements we deem cute not foolish. Suitably enough, the word comes from the delightful and long obsolete Middle English word clamb, meaning the past tense of climb, a word that has all the happy logic of a toddler's imagination.

Definitions of clamber
  1. verb
    climb awkwardly, as if by scrambling
    synonyms: scramble, shin, shinny, skin, sputter, struggle
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    type of:
    move with difficulty, by grasping
  2. noun
    an awkward climb
    “reaching the crest was a real clamber
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    type of:
    climb, mount
    the act of climbing something
Word Family

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