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 Turner and her husband, Joe Jonas, have an almost identical dog called Porky Basquiat who was born in the same litter as Waldo. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Sophie Turner Vacations with Priyanka Chopra and a Brand New Puppy," 3 Aug. 2019 According to the group’s website, most plastic that ends up in the ocean comes from litter on beaches, streets and sidewalks. Joshua Emerson Smith, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Surfrider, volunteers prepare for post-Fourth of July beach cleanup," 3 July 2018 And pet owners need to bring food, water and (for cats) litter boxes. Anthony Man, sun-sentinel.com, "Broward County opens three storm shelters as Hurricane Dorian remains off coast," 2 Sep. 2019 Police then searched the apartment and uncovered 15 gel capsules of suspected heroin and two suspected paraphernalia items in a litter box. Catalina Righter, baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll, "Westminster man charged with intent to distribute heroin allegedly concealed in litter box," 7 Aug. 2019 Some companies are creating discreet accent furniture that hides the lowly litter box. Jura Koncius, Twin Cities, "Custom wood kennels, memory foam beds: The wild world of modern pet furniture," 28 July 2019 Kimpton’s offerings for kitty guests start with basics: a litter box, food and water dishes, and toys. Kelsey Ogletree, WSJ, "Dogs vs. Cats: Why Pet-Friendly Hotels Are Warming to Felines," 24 June 2019 Yet traveling for even a few days meant coming home to a stanky litter box. Andrew Moseman, Popular Mechanics, "How Much Litter Box Do You Really Get for $500?," 23 Jan. 2019 Anchorage’s plastic bag ban follows those of other Alaska communities, including Wasilla, Palmer and Kodiak, that have also banned single-use plastic bags in an effort to reduce litter and waste. Michelle Theriault Boots, Anchorage Daily News, "Anchorage’s plastic bag ban takes effect Sunday. Here’s what to expect.," 13 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Those flat expanses of the deep ocean floor can be littered with potatolike nodules rich in nickel, copper, and cobalt. Warren Cornwall, Science | AAAS, "Mountains hidden in the deep sea are biological hot spots. Will mining ruin them?," 12 Sep. 2019 Their performance up to that point was littered with mistakes, none more crucial than three fumbles, two of which led to San Benito touchdowns. Justice Delos Santos, The Mercury News, "Wilcox scores 27 straight points to come back and beat San Benito," 6 Sep. 2019 His lyrics about the paradoxes of modern Russia, often critical of the Kremlin’s notion of traditional values, are littered with words so vulgar that most of his songs never make it to the radio. Sabra Ayres, Los Angeles Times, "How Russia’s biggest rock star gets away with speaking truth to power (a.k.a. Putin)," 30 Aug. 2019 The zoo was littered with the corpses of giraffes and big cats, but the bear had survived due to the efforts of a former bank-teller who dashed through the night to feed her. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "Téa Obreht Considers the Camel," 28 Aug. 2019 Aside from the two freshman quarterbacks, Auburn’s first-team offense and defense are littered with experience. Tom Green | Tgreen@al.com, al, "Why Gus Malzahn is expediting the installation of Auburn’s playbook," 3 Aug. 2019 Instead, Mixer's official Twitter channel was littered with GIF replies to followers about the announcement. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Ninja’ed: Microsoft swipes top game-streamer from Amazon’s Twitch," 1 Aug. 2019 Trees and power lines littered flooded streets in Charleston’s historic downtown. Meg Kinnard, chicagotribune.com, "Hurricane Dorian sideswipes the coast of the Carolinas, spinning off tornadoes and taking aim at Outer Banks," 5 Sep. 2019 Trees and power lines littered flooded streets in Charleston’s historic downtown. Meg Kinnard, The Denver Post, "Dorian grazes Carolina coast, aims for Outer Banks," 5 Sep. 2019

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

25 Oct 2019

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
How to pronounce litter (audio)

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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Comments on litter

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