scrab·​ble | \ ˈskra-bəl How to pronounce scrabble (audio) \
scrabbled; scrabbling\ ˈskra-​b(ə-​)liŋ How to pronounce scrabbling (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 scrabbler (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 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 Rather, Sanders has become something considerably less buzz-worthy, just another candidate scrabbling to break from the pack of presidential hopefuls, many staking positions similar — if not identical — to his own. Los Angeles Times, "Bernie Sanders hasn’t changed. Is that his strength or a weakness?," 26 July 2019 My silicon chip, my ambition silicon chip, has been programmed to try and scrabble my way up this cursus honorum, this ladder of things. . . . Sam Knight, The New Yorker, "The Empty Promise of Boris Johnson," 13 June 2019 During these past two years, the U.K. has been scrabbling to figure out the terms under which Brexit would happen. Rachel Epstein, Marie Claire, "Brexit May Force the Queen to Evacuate from the Palace," 4 Feb. 2019 The driver, checks the coast is clear, but can't see the crouching boy and pulls away - over the lad, who scrabbles frantically for a few seconds before disappearing beneath the SUV. Swns - Joe Smith, Fox News, "Kid tying shoelace run over by car, walks away," 27 Sep. 2018 Whereas for most of human civilization, people have had to scrabble just to exist, in the past 100 years or so the pendulum has swung—at least for those privileged few of us who live in first world countries. Redbook, "Finding the Sweet Spot Between Too Much Parenting and Too Little: Easier Said Than Done?," 23 June 2011 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

Last Updated

26 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Scrabble.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 12 December 2019.

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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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Comments on scrabble

What made you want to look up scrabble? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a period of high artistic development

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