The adjective rambling means confused and long-winded, the way you could describe your grandfather's endless rambling stories of his childhood.

Rambling always means indirect and a little confusing, which can be a negative quality in a classroom lecture or movie plot — but when you're talking about a path through the woods, rambling is a charming way to describe it. You might love to hike through the woods on rambling trails that twist and turn. Rambling comes from the verb ramble, "walk or stroll," which is a variant on the older verb romen, "to walk, or to go," and related to "roam."

Definitions of rambling

adj spreading out in different directions

sprawling, straggling, straggly
not neat and tidy

adj winding or meandering

rambling forest paths”
meandering, wandering, winding
not direct in spatial dimension; not leading by a straight line or course to a destination

adj (of e.g. speech and writing) tending to depart from the main point or cover a wide range of subjects

“a rambling speech about this and that”
digressive, discursive, excursive
extended senses; not direct in manner or language or behavior or action

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.