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noun lit·ter \ˈli-tər\

Simple Definition of litter

  • : things that have been thrown away and that are lying on the ground in a public place

  • : a messy pile or group of things

  • : dry material that is spread in a container and used as a toilet by animals (especially cats) while they are indoors

Full Definition of litter

  1. 1 a :  a covered and curtained couch provided with shafts and used for carrying a single passenger b :  a device (as a stretcher) for carrying a sick or injured person

  2. 2 a (1) :  material used as bedding for animals (2) :  material used to absorb the urine and feces of animals b :  the uppermost slightly decayed layer of organic matter on the forest floor

  3. 3 :  the offspring at one birth of a multiparous animal <a litter of puppies>

  4. 4 a :  trash, wastepaper, or garbage lying scattered about <trying to clean up the roadside litter> b :  an untidy accumulation of objects <a shabby writing-desk covered with a litter of yellowish dusty documents — Joseph Conrad>

lit·tery play \-tə-rē\ adjective

Examples of litter

  1. We decided to pick up the litter in the park.

  2. Her desk was covered with a litter of legal documents.

Illustration of litter

Origin of litter

Middle English, from Anglo-French litere, from lit bed, from Latin lectus — more at lie

First Known Use: 14th century

Other Vehicles Terms



verb lit·ter

Simple Definition of litter

  • : to cover (a surface) with many things in an untidy way

  • : to throw or leave trash on the ground in a public place

Full Definition of litter

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  bed 1a

  3. 2 :  to give birth to a litter of (young)

  4. 3 a :  to strew with scattered articles b :  to scatter about in disorder c :  to lie about in disorder <their upside-down hats littered the top of the bar — Michael Chabon> d :  to mark with objects scattered at random <a book littered with misprints>

  5. intransitive verb
  6. 1 :  to give birth to a litter

  7. 2 :  to strew litter

Examples of litter

  1. Paper and popcorn littered the streets after the parade.

  2. a desk littered with old letters and bills

  3. It is illegal to litter.

  4. He had to pay a fine for littering.

14th Century

First Known Use of litter

14th century

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February 6, 2016

an official order, decree, or edict

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