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

In the Bay Area, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that disposable foodware makes up two-thirds of the street litter in the bay and the ocean. Colleen Shalby, latimes.com, "San Francisco law restricts restaurants from offering customers disposable foodware," 12 July 2019 However, there is one potential hitch in her plans: Another person, a board member, also wants to have the pick of this litter with the first interment. Clarence Williams, chicagotribune.com, "District of Columbia’s first pet cemetery to open at a historic graveyard," 11 July 2019 Which is why all of this social-media nonsense about the Magic possibly acquiring mercurial Oklahoma City point guard Russell Westbrook is nothing but a bunch of Twitter litter. Mike Bianchi, orlandosentinel.com, "Nikola Vucevic is the anti-Dwight Howard — an all-star who realizes how good he has it in Orlando | Commentary," 8 July 2019 In Hamilton County alone, crews collected 28,167 trash bags full of litter in 2018. Hannah K. Sparling, Cincinnati.com, "Ohio roads are covered in trash. And it’s a huge waste of money and time.," 8 July 2019 Bottle bills were passed partly in an effort to reduce this kind of litter. Michael Corkery, New York Times, "Beverage Companies Embrace Recycling, Until It Costs Them," 4 July 2019 In neighborhoods, residents point out needle caps found near playgrounds and piles of litter along bike and pedestrian paths as evidence of problems that arose when more homeless camps moved in. oregonlive.com, "How a dirty city gets clean: Efforts to clean up Portland’s downtown come together this summer," 2 July 2019 Major was part of a litter that was exposed to toxic chemicals before they were brought to the shelter, but is in fine health now Delaware Online reports. Heather Timmons, Quartz, "Meet the dogs of the 2020 presidential race," 1 July 2019 Plastic bags are one of the most common types of beach litter. USA TODAY, "Pride pickup, sphinx on move, Tony Stark’s cabin: News from around our 50 states," 13 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The Colombian center-back had a season littered with fitness issues last year, preventing him from establishing himself as a regular for Everton. SI.com, "Everton Fantasy Football: Every Toffees Player's Price in 2019/20 Game Revealed," 10 July 2019 But if the Order of Engineers’ estimate is accurate, then about 80,000 to 100,000 unexploded bombs littered the Italian landscape after the war. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "Unexploded World War II bombs may still be buried at Pompeii," 8 July 2019 His crew will pick up trash one day, and the next, the very same stretch of highway will be littered anew. Hannah K. Sparling, Cincinnati.com, "Ohio roads are covered in trash. And it’s a huge waste of money and time.," 8 July 2019 The full list of uncivilized behaviors stretches to spitting, littering, failing to wait in line politely, and taking off your shoes to air out your feet. Natasha Frost, Quartzy, "Belly-baring Chinese men have been told to cover up in the city of Jinan," 6 July 2019 Ceramic wind bells littered the oil-producing olive trees and Escher-like stairwells of the compound. Bon Appétit, "A Photo Tour of Arcosanti, the Utopian Oasis in the Arizona Desert," 27 June 2019 Food wrappings were found littered in the rear of the trucks, signaling to police the trucks were used to transport people, per the release. Rebecca Hennes, Houston Chronicle, "Police: Increase in Liberty County area truck thefts linked to human trafficking, smuggling activity," 25 June 2019 Moreover, the tents are littering South Col, or Camp 4, which, at 8,000 meters (26,240 feet) is the highest campsite on Everest, just below the summit. Washington Post, "30 tents abandoned by climbers add to trash pile on Everest," 24 June 2019 Limbs littered the gardens in the village of Grabovo, and travel books lay along the roads. The Economist, "Investigators indict the suspected killers of 298 people on flight MH17," 20 June 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

19 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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