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)

1 : scramble
2 : scribble
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

clamber, climb, scramble, swarm

Synonyms: Noun

battle, fight, fray, struggle, throes

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Examples of scrabble in a Sentence


She scrabbled around in her handbag for a pen. He scrabbled at the slippery rock.


it'll be a long scrabble to pull ourselves out of poverty
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 Homer and Marge would be somewhere in their 60s, probably still scrabbling to make ends meet. Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "The Simpsons is stuck in an eternal 1990. Its Apu controversy reflects that.," 15 Apr. 2018 Ruthie, separated from her husband, is scrabbling to keep her toehold in the middle class after being forced out of her job at a local museum by a conniving board member. New York Times, "4 Writers to Watch This Summer," 17 May 2018 Nollsch recalled how the sound of someone scaling the fence was followed by what sounded like a person falling into bushes, then scrabbling to get out, according to sheriff's documents. Marjie Lundstrom And Sam Stanton, sacbee, "Rapes and burglaries had occurred. But this was the first time the East Area Rapist killed | The Sacramento Bee," 14 May 2018 But there are many other reasons—including the race to pump undersea oil and to establish new military outposts—that have nations with Arctic coasts scrabbling, like aggressive crabs, to establish territorial rights. The Editors, Scientific American, "Without a Treaty to Share the Arctic, Greedy Countries Will Destroy It," 1 Dec. 2017 This was enough for Harry Redknapp to roll down the window and scrabble around in his car’s filthy ashtray for some loose change., "Pascal Chimbonda & 24 Other Classic Premier League Players You’d Forgotten: No. 5 - Nigel Reo-Coker," 26 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 Scrabble for adults Mondays 6 p.m., John Marshall Library, 4133 Rectortown Rd. Washington Post, "Community events in Fauquier County," 30 May 2017 The recurrent motif is Scrabble: the Commander enlists Offred in a secret game. Emily Nussbaum, The New Yorker, "A Cunning Adaptation of “The Handmaid’s Tale”," 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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More Definitions for scrabble



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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