litter

noun
lit·​ter | \ˈli-tər \

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

litter

verb
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

Noun

litter 1a

In the meaning defined above

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Other Words from litter

Noun

littery \ ˈli-​tə-​rē \ 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Prize money would have gone toward the care of senior cats placed into homes including paying for food, kitty litter, vet bills and more. Bryce Airgood, Detroit Free Press, "Lawyers retrofit trailer to take free legal advice on the road," 29 June 2018 Residents gathered together to beautify the neighborhood by picking up litter along the streets to show love for their town. Quoron Walker, Courant Community, "Residents Show 'East Side Pride'," 27 June 2018 On May 12, for example, members of a black sorority were questioned by a state trooper while picking up litter on a Pennsylvania highway. Cleve R. Wootson Jr., OrlandoSentinel.com, "Woman threatens to call police on 8-year-old selling water for trip to Disneyland," 24 June 2018 Inside, police found Joyce Snow in the bathroom and Clifford in the garage, wrapped in plastic and carpet and sprinkled with kitty litter, court records state. Becky Jacobs, Post-Tribune, "Lowell man found guilty of parents' murders appeals conviction," 22 June 2018 This is my favourite moment of the World Cup so far; Japan fans picking up litter after their victory vs Columbia. Natalie Dreier, ajc, "Japanese, Senegalese World Cup fans clean up stadium after matches," 20 June 2018 This is my favourite moment of the World Cup so far; Japan fans picking up litter after their victory vs Columbia. Alex Ward, Vox, "Japanese World Cup fans cleaned up the stadium after they won. Now others are doing it.," 20 June 2018 Russians in the 11 cities are being asked to be courteous to the guests and also pick up litter. The Christian Science Monitor, "Why Russians may bare their teeth at the World Cup," 13 June 2018 Tilly, an African wild dog at the Denver Zoo, had a litter of three males (Nigel, Theodore Roosevelt and Livingstone) and one female (Cholula) on Nov. 20. Terry Gardner, latimes.com, "Just in time for Mother's Day: zoo babies in the West," 6 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

If there is a Somali story, it is littered with debris. Sadia Hassan, Longreads, "Silence is a Lonely Country: A Prayer in Twelve Parts," 13 July 2018 Yes, his past is littered with lapses in judgement. Mike Jones, USA TODAY, "Because of his past, Jameis Winston can’t afford more transgressions," 22 June 2018 The road between is littered with cautionary tales of talented men crippled by their addictions, and record executives who were gangsters in all but name. Wesley Stace, WSJ, "‘Siren Song’ Review: An Ear for What Was Next," 14 June 2018 That was the scandal of the day until FitzPatrick broke the story of filthy schools in which hallways and classroom were littered with trash, debris, and rodent droppings. Ben Joravsky, Chicago Reader, "News / Education / Politics The pattern to Rahm's sexual predator, filthy schools, and special ed scandals," 8 June 2018 Golden State's dynasty with a roster that's littered with All-Star talent and built around some of the biggest names the game has to offer. William Guillory, NOLA.com, "7 things to know about Golden State Warriors, the Pelicans' second-round opponent," 25 Apr. 2018 The only difference between their good time and mine is theirs is littered with American-flag paraphernalia and a beer or ...20. Taylor Seely, azcentral, "Country Thunder AZ as a first-timer: 'Oh wow, so that just happened.'," 5 Apr. 2018 Father and son lay in single beds separated by a low table that was littered with the stuff of sickness: medicine bottles and cups with straws, heating pads and cold packs. Bob Tedeschi, STAT, "With the help of a loved one, a family finds what is essential in the end," 28 Mar. 2018 The bad: streets are littered with stray scooters and pedestrians are upset. Ethan May, Indianapolis Star, "Another dockless scooter service launching Saturday in Indianapolis," 22 June 2018

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.

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First Known Use of litter

Noun

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

Verb

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

History and Etymology for litter

Noun

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

Verb

see litter entry 1

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Statistics for litter

Last Updated

8 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for litter

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

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More Definitions for litter

litter

noun

English Language Learners Definition of litter

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: 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

litter

verb

English Language Learners Definition of litter (Entry 2 of 2)

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

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

litter

noun
lit·​ter | \ˈli-tər \

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

litter

verb
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.

litter

noun
lit·​ter | \ˈlit-ər \

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

Medical Definition of litter (Entry 2 of 2)

: to give birth to a litter of (young)

intransitive verb

: to give birth to a litter

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Comments on litter

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