lit·​ter | \ ˈli-tər How to pronounce litter (audio) \

Definition of litter

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a covered and curtained couch provided with shafts and used for carrying a single passenger a litter carried on the shoulders of four men— Edwin Tunis
b : a device (such as a stretcher) for carrying a sick or injured person The wounded soldier was carried to the rear by litter.
2a(1) : material used as bedding for animals Fibrous peat was used as litter for livestock.
(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 : the offspring at one birth of a multiparous animal a litter of puppies
4a : 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


littered; littering; litters

Definition of litter (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

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

intransitive verb

1 : to give birth to a litter
2 : to strew litter

Illustration of litter

Illustration of litter


litter 1a

In the meaning defined above

Other Words from litter


littery \ ˈli-​tə-​rē How to pronounce litter (audio) \ adjective

Examples of litter in a Sentence

Noun We decided to pick up the litter in the park. Her desk was covered with a litter of legal documents. Verb Paper and popcorn littered the streets after the parade. a desk littered with old letters and bills It is illegal to litter. He had to pay a fine for littering. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun More than a thousand shipwrecks litter these sands, from as far back as 1530. Ben Taub, The New Yorker, 16 May 2022 Rescuers determined Chaloux could hike with minor assistance and did not need a rescue litter, Fish and Game said. Matt Yan,, 16 May 2022 Elsewhere in Ukraine, residents are trickling back to villages near Kharkiv, finding destruction, litter and explosives left behind by retreating Russian troops. WSJ, 9 May 2022 Mines and debris litter the streets outside, making travel dangerous. Michael G. Seamans, USA TODAY, 22 Apr. 2022 This year alone, Keep Cincinnati Beautiful – Cincinnati’s biggest cleanup organization – has already cleaned up 873,997 pounds of litter and debris. Sharon Coolidge, The Enquirer, 18 Mar. 2022 For decades, critics have complained the drive-through lanes create traffic woes, litter, noise and bad air quality. Los Angeles Times, 15 Mar. 2022 While hardly reminiscent of the untamed river from earlier centuries, this section of the river today feels like a natural respite from the surrounding urban environment, even if there appears to be an equal amount of both litter and vegetation. New York Times, 31 Jan. 2022 Myron Edwards, 29, of the 1000 block of Parkside Avenue, Chicago, received a local ordinance citation for retail theft on Jan. 2 after attempting to shoplift kitty litter, litter bags, lotion, soap and energy drinks at Walgreens, 7200 North Ave., 25 Jan. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Human urine and feces frequently litter the ground. Eric Lach, The New Yorker, 14 May 2022 The photo are then uploaded and assist the district in finding solutions to litter problems. cleveland, 15 Apr. 2022 These submunitions—up to 30 percent of a cluster bomb’s payload—will then litter the battlefield, putting military personnel and civilians, alike, in peril. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 14 Apr. 2022 China used a missile in 2007 to destroy one of its satellites, a blast that continues to litter space with nearly 3,000 pieces of debris. Courtney Subramanianstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 18 Apr. 2022 Despite that experience, there has been no mention of sending Spot to search for the dozen or so unexploded World War II bombs that still litter an unsurveyed 22-hectare swath of the ancient city. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, 1 Apr. 2022 More than 50 people turned out at a Cincinnati neighborhood forum designed to let citizens ask questions, share problems and present possible solutions to litter. Sharon Coolidge, The Enquirer, 22 Mar. 2022 This is a magazine for nature lovers, and nature lovers don’t litter, especially not in nature! Outside Online, 4 May 2021 Thousands of cars, lithium-ion batteries, oil, gas, and an entire cargo ship now litter the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Manasee Wagh, Popular Mechanics, 14 Mar. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'litter.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of litter


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for litter

Noun and Verb

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

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Time Traveler for litter

Time Traveler

The first known use of litter was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near litter



litterae clausae

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Statistics for litter

Last Updated

20 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Litter.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for litter


lit·​ter | \ ˈli-tər How to pronounce litter (audio) \

Kids Definition of litter

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the young born to an animal at a single time a litter of pigs
2 : a messy collection of things scattered about : trash We picked up the litter in our neighborhood.
3 : material used to soak up the urine and feces of animals
4 : a covered and curtained couch having poles and used for carrying a single passenger
5 : a stretcher for carrying a sick or wounded person


littered; littering

Kids Definition of litter (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to throw or leave trash on the ground
2 : to cover in an untidy way Leaves littered the yard.


lit·​ter | \ ˈlit-ər How to pronounce litter (audio) \

Medical Definition of litter

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a device (as a stretcher) for carrying a sick or injured person
2 : the offspring at one birth of a multiparous animal


transitive verb

Medical Definition of litter (Entry 2 of 2)

: to give birth to a litter of (young)

intransitive verb

: to give birth to a litter

More from Merriam-Webster on litter

Nglish: Translation of litter for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of litter for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about litter


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