Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


verb scram·ble \ˈskram-bəl\

Simple Definition of scramble

  • : to move or climb over something quickly especially while also using your hands

  • : to move or act quickly to do, find, or get something often before someone else does

  • : to prepare (eggs) by mixing the white and yellow parts together and then stirring the mixture in a hot pan

Full Definition of scramble

scram·bledscram·bling play \-b(ə-)liŋ\

  1. intransitive verb
  2. 1a :  to move with urgency or panicb :  to move or climb hastily on all fours

  3. 2a :  to struggle eagerly or unceremoniously for possession of something <scramble for front seats>b :  to get or gather something with difficulty or in irregular ways <scramble for a living>

  4. 3 :  to spread or grow irregularly :  sprawl, straggle

  5. 4 :  to take off quickly in response to an alert

  6. 5 of a football quarterback :  to run with the ball after the pass protection breaks down

  7. transitive verb
  8. 1 :  to collect by scrambling

  9. 2a :  to toss or mix together :  jumbleb :  to prepare (eggs) by stirring during frying

  10. 3 :  to cause or order (a fighter-interceptor group) to scramble

  11. 4 :  to disarrange the elements of a transmission (as a telephone or television signal) in order to make unintelligible to interception

scram·bler play \-b(ə-)lər\ noun

Examples of scramble

  1. We scrambled over the boulders and kept climbing up the mountain.

  2. He scrambled up the ramp.

  3. reporters scrambling to finish stories by deadline

  4. Both players scrambled for the ball.

  5. News of the factory closing found workers scrambling to find jobs.

  6. It started to rain, and we all scrambled for cover.

  7. I'll scramble some eggs for breakfast.

Origin of scramble

perhaps alteration of 1scrabble

First Known Use: 1568

Rhymes with scramble



noun scram·ble

Simple Definition of scramble

  • : the act of moving or climbing over something quickly especially while also using your hands

  • : the act of moving or acting quickly to do, find, or get something

  • American football : a play in which the quarterback runs with the ball while being chased by defensive players

Full Definition of scramble

  1. 1 :  the act or an instance of scrambling

  2. 2 :  a disordered mass :  jumble <a…scramble of patterns and textures — Vogue>

  3. 3 :  a rapid emergency takeoff of fighter-interceptor planes

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up scramble? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 10, 2016

to put in good humor

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?

spindrift kittly-benders duvet pince-nez
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.