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

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 The female dog had given birth to a litter of nine healthy puppies. Meagan Fredette, Teen Vogue, "Puppies Found on a Weed Farm Are Very Chill, Officials Say," 5 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

From the occasional pimple to blackheads littering your nose, there are so many different variations of acne. Kelsey Castañon, Seventeen, "Everything You Need to Know About Acne — and How to Get Rid of It," 4 Dec. 2018 Of course, history is littered with examples of artists behaving badly: Caravaggio, the brilliant Renaissance artist, was wanted for murder. CBS News, "It's complicated: When filmmakers' legacies intertwine with #MeToo," 4 Mar. 2018 Back then the highway outside Bama was littered with land mines and flanked by largely vacant villages occupied or used by Boko Haram as bases to spring attacks. New York Times, "A Homecoming for Nigerians Who Fled Militants. All That’s Missing Is the ‘Home.’," 10 July 2018 This week’s summit between the leaders of North and South Korea will occur at a border littered with mines and laced with barbed wire, a Cold War reminder of a division that dates to the end of World War II. Washington Post, "Venue for Koreas summit a symbol of division," 26 Apr. 2018 Martha Stewart was in attendance, punctual and surveying banquet tables littered with chocolates. Lilah Ramzi, Vogue, "Bella Hadid, Karlie Kloss, and Joan Smalls Suited Up in Louis Vuitton Menswear for the Virgil Abloh and Chrome Hearts Dinner," 10 Jan. 2019 But any duds would leave an area littered with unexploded ordnance, something that's happened to London before. David Hambling, Popular Mechanics, "What Are Airports Going to Do About Drones?," 9 Jan. 2019 However, among those sifting through the sand for plastic bottles and cigarette butts were a handful of folks who recently received infractions for everything from public intoxication to littering to walking a dog off leash. Joshua Emerson Smith, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Hundreds turn out for post-Fourth of July beach cleanup — most volunteers but some working off holiday infractions," 6 July 2018 John Harris, who shot one of the videos, told KNTV that police told him afterward that the jogger could potentially only be fined for littering because the homeless man’s belongings are legally considered debris. Don Sweeney, sacbee, "Jogger who tossed homeless man’s belongings into Oakland lake is arrested, police say," 13 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 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

15 Feb 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 \

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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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

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