scrab·​ble | \ ˈskra-bəl How to pronounce scrabble (audio) \
scrabbled; scrabbling\ ˈskra-​b(ə-​)liŋ How to pronounce scrabble (audio) \

Definition of scrabble

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

2 : to scratch, claw, or grope about clumsily or frantically
b : to struggle by or as if by scraping or scratching scrabble for survival



Definition of scrabble (Entry 2 of 2)

3 : a repeated scratching or clawing

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Other Words from scrabble


scrabbler \ ˈskra-​b(ə-​)lər How to pronounce scrabble (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for scrabble

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

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Examples of scrabble in a Sentence

Verb She scrabbled around in her handbag for a pen. He scrabbled at the slippery rock. Noun it'll be a long scrabble to pull ourselves out of poverty
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Now, airports from New Zealand to Canada are scrabbling for public support in a bid to remain open. Natasha Frost, Quartz, "Coronavirus-hit airports are on the brink of failure," 26 Mar. 2020 Russia cut the supply for several days, forcing Belarus to scrabble for other energy sources before some supplies resumed. Robyn Dixon, Washington Post, "Russia once proposed a union with ally Belarus. Now the U.S. is getting between them.," 7 Feb. 2020 People weren’t exactly scrabbling to fight over a seat. Jonathan Vatner, New York Times, "So You Want to Join Your Co-op Board?," 3 Jan. 2020 Watch the hooves of a dying creature frantically scrabbling to escape, trying to obey signals from its brain that its body can no longer execute. David E. Petzal, Field & Stream, "When Is it Time to Stop Pulling the Trigger?," 3 Dec. 2019 The male nipped my ankles and scrabbled over my back, pushing me below the surface. Jennifer Hayes, National Geographic, "Inside the fragile world of Québec’s harp seals," 19 Dec. 2019 Featuring a new cast of young heroes scrabbling for survival in a galaxy bereft of the Jedi Order, this film reunites some of the franchise’s classic characters to take down a superweapon even more terrifying than the Death Star. Alex Kane, USA TODAY, "How to watch Star Wars: The Force Awakens," 12 Nov. 2019 Carmen Izquierdo-Oliva grew up in South Los Angeles with immigrant parents who scrabbled to make ends meet as painters and janitors. Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times, "Billionaire Rick Caruso gives $50 million to Pepperdine law school to expand access for underserved students," 23 Oct. 2019 President Donald Trump has been hunting for reasons to extract trade concessions from the European Union with the eagerness of a dog scrabbling around for a bone buried in the back yard. Washington Post, "Donald Trump Throws a Tax Bomb at Emmanuel Macron," 11 July 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In the early 90s, Nigeria’s central government recognized scrabble as a sport. Oluwatosin Adeshokan, Quartz Africa, "How Nigeria got so good at competitive Scrabble," 8 Nov. 2019 Across the street from her, a kinetic scrabble of orange and blue runs the height of a five-story brick building like an electric charge. Globe Staff,, "For public art in the Boston area, competing interests and big questions," 27 July 2019 Anthony was happiest being with family & friends, and enjoyed playing scrabble & cards., "Anthony Cavallaro," 10 July 2019 Here is the scrabble of historical experience before history has laid down its narrative paths. Rachel Aviv, The New Yorker, "Walter Kempowski’s Epic Novel of Germany in Collapse," 21 Mar. 2016 Then there was the scrabble of a key at a lock, and the other door, the one facing him, that led to the free world, opened. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "A prisoner is given a deal he can’t refuse in an excerpt from S.J. Morden’s sci-fi novel One Way," 25 Mar. 2018 Mémère loved family gatherings and was ready anytime for a game of scrabble, cards, the challenge of a good puzzle or a computer game., "Rita R. Dulude," 5 Mar. 2018 Spoelstra masks this small flaw by getting his group to outwork teams in scrabbles for loose balls. Karl Bullock,, "The Case for Coach of the Year: Erik Spoelstra," 1 Feb. 2018 Each photo is a miniature stage play: a boy wraps himself in a rope, like a noose or a bandolier; girls in finery scrabble for candy; refugee children solemnly display their toys. David Campany, The New Yorker, "Mark Neville’s Immersive Photo Experiment," 22 May 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'scrabble.' 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 scrabble


1537, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1


1794, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for scrabble


Dutch schrabbelen to scratch

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Time Traveler for scrabble

Time Traveler

The first known use of scrabble was in 1537

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Statistics for scrabble

Cite this Entry

“Scrabble.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for scrabble


How to pronounce scrabble (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of scrabble

: to move the hands or feet in an awkward and hurried way in order to find or do something

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