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

The worst litter in my neighborhood is around the elementary school. Letters To The Editor, The Mercury News, "Letter: The worst litter in my neighborhood is around schools," 13 June 2019 So far, the parents are raising the litter on their own, but the zoo's staff is watching closely. Andrew Nicla, azcentral, "Endangered Mexican gray wolf population boosted by 6 pups at Phoenix Zoo," 5 June 2019 Schrödinger’s kittens have never been very cute, and the latest litter is no exception. Quanta Magazine, "Real-Life Schrödinger’s Cats Probe the Boundary of the Quantum World," 25 June 2018 However, keeping up with the litter is practically an endless job. Linda Girardi, Aurora Beacon-News, "Aurora groups band together for Earth Day cleanup," 22 Apr. 2018 The order also found peeling paint on portions of the exterior trim and loose litter on the front and rear porches. Frederick Melo, Twin Cities, "St. Paul officials order mayor’s rental home be repaired and registered vacant," 14 June 2019 Mechanical systems, such as Mr. Trash Wheel, a litter interceptor in Maryland’s Baltimore Harbor, can be effective at picking up large pieces of plastic, such as foam cups and food containers, from inland waters. Laura Parker, National Geographic, "The world's plastic pollution crisis explained," 12 June 2019 Those 10 products — which could include such items as shopping bags and disposable utensils — would be determined based on state litter surveys. Dustin Gardiner, SFChronicle.com, "California takes on an ocean of plastic waste, considers crackdown on industry," 12 June 2019 By their first hour, the crew had filled the back of a pickup with large plastic bags stuffed with litter. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Program hiring homeless for tash pickup expands," 11 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The bookmakers pack up their computers and roll them away on dollies, leaving the lawn littered with betting slips. Ellen Barry, New York Times, "Hats Like Sneezes, Playing at Aristocracy and Other Notes From Royal Ascot," 24 June 2019 In the new 90-second trailer that MTV released on Thursday, there is a bachelor party that involves upside-down scantily clad people and a floor littered with cash. Dan Snierson, EW.com, "See The Situation’s pre-prison wedding in new Jersey Shore Family Vacation trailer," 20 June 2019 The fittings of a hotel were torn out or just torn to shreds, leaving the structure littered with debris in an image reminiscent of wartime or the aftermath of a natural disaster. NBC News, "Venezuela's dead are not spared as theft increases in cemeteries," 18 June 2019 Its once-gleaming buildings are dark and brooding — windows gone, interiors looted, hallways littered with crumbling books. Dallas News, "Decades after nuclear disaster, tourism is booming at Chernobyl," 18 June 2019 The books were plotless, littered with mind-numbing, repetitious quasi-sentences. I-huei Go, The New Yorker, "How Dr. Seuss Changed Education in America," 5 June 2019 Their home in Martinez, a sprawling 4,100-square-foot affair, is in foreclosure, the swimming pool littered with leaves. latimes.com, "This California couple scammed Berkshire Hathaway out of millions, feds say," 4 June 2019 For years, cities and towns asked landscape architects to avoid planting female trees, which bear fruit or seed pods that can litter sidewalks and muck up car windshields. Lauren Fox, BostonGlobe.com, "Pollen is getting worse, and climate change is the culprit," 14 June 2019 In a week the Indianapolis Colts’ General Manager and his staff will look to attack the holes that litter his roster. Zak Keefer, Indianapolis Star, "Chances the Colts' own free agents return in 2018," 6 Mar. 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

5 Jul 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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