litter

noun
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

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 How to pronounce littery (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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Downs explains that the bans help prevent situations like what’s currently happening in Phuket, Thailand, where pollution from litter—including sunscreen—has fueled destruction so bad that parts of the beaches have been shut down to tourists. Sara Gaynes Levy, Vogue, "This Western Pacific Island Just Became the First Country in the World to Ban “Reef-Toxic” Sunscreen," 6 Nov. 2018 Much of that plastic is litter or plastic from landfills that found its way into a body of water. Tabor Wordelman, Teen Vogue, "These Are the Ways Plastics Can Mess Up Your Body," 19 Dec. 2018 There was remarkably little litter, the exception being spots along the shore where ocean currents deposited refuse that was mostly related to fishing. Doug Hansen, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Hiking Spain's wild coast," 12 July 2018 There were 87 dogs on the Siheung farm as of Friday morning, though new litters of puppies were expected soon. Washington Post, "‘Heartbroken’ Kenworthy visits dog meat farm, adopts puppy," 23 Feb. 2018 There were 87 dogs on the Siheung farm as of Friday morning, though new litters of puppies were expected soon. Jake Seiner, chicagotribune.com, "'Heartbroken' Gus Kenworthy visits dog meat farm, adopts puppy," 23 Feb. 2018 She was carried out on a litter and did not need to be transported to the hospital. Gary Warth, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Two women rescued from Box Canyon cliffs in La Jolla," 30 Mar. 2018 By extinguishing smaller blazes, leaf litter, shrubs, and small plants build up in forests, increasing the fuel load. Umair Irfan, Vox, "What we learned from the disasters that hammered the US in 2018," 27 Dec. 2018 His product is part of a growing industry of gadgets for pets that includes GPS trackers, automatic feeders, ball throwing machines for dogs to fetch, and self-cleaning litter boxes for cats. Adam Pemble, The Seattle Times, "A dog’s life: fitness trackers help put fat pets on a diet," 20 Aug. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The history of discovery is littered with apparently unbridgeable gaps. Helen Czerski, WSJ, "The ‘Stick-Slip’ Beauty of Bow and String," 30 Jan. 2019 The landscape of presidential nominee coverage is littered with examples of picks who withered under political and media scrutiny, like Harriet Miers under George W. Bush or Tom Daschle under Barack Obama. Brian Flood, Fox News, "Media's biggest Kavanaugh misses: Aspiring hit pieces on Supreme Court pick draw mockery," 21 Aug. 2018 However, Germany's path to the second round is littered with obstacles as all four Group F teams can still qualify. Justin Davis, chicagotribune.com, "Germany, Brazil, Mexico play for their World Cup lives in group stage finale," 27 June 2018 The sentencing memorandum filed by attorneys for Allen is littered with examples of Russian propaganda ads found in his Facebook feed. Roxana Hegeman, The Seattle Times, "Kansas militia men blame Trump’s rhetoric for planned attack," 30 Oct. 2018 Meanwhile, stacks of unattended homeless belongings still littered the lakeside Wednesday morning. Matier & Ross, San Francisco Chronicle, "Oakland’s Lake Merritt getting clean up as NBA finals start Thursday," 30 May 2018 His name still littered through the 3-point shooting section of IU’s record books. Zach Osterman, Indianapolis Star, "From Bob Knight to Archie Miller: Examining IU basketball coaches' first full recruiting classes," 13 May 2018 Laura Soderberg, 48, of Harrison Township drives to her mortgage industry job in Troy along Metro Parkway and reports the route between Dodge Park and Dequindre roads in Sterling Heights is still littered with potholes. Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press, "The scary, hidden damage Michigan potholes can do to your car," 5 Apr. 2018 People similar to Bull Connor and George Wallace still litter the political and social landscape, making brazen appeals to uphold white supremacy. Richard J. Reddick, Fortune, "Commentary: MLK Was Killed 50 Years Ago. Did America’s Moral Courage Die With Him?," 4 Apr. 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 and Verb

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

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Statistics for litter

Last Updated

1 Mar 2019

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 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

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 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

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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More from Merriam-Webster on litter

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with litter

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for litter

Spanish Central: Translation of litter

Nglish: Translation of litter for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of litter for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about litter

Comments on litter

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