scram·ble | \ˈskram-bəl \
scrambled; scrambling\ˈskram-b(ə-)liŋ \

Definition of scramble 

(Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a : to move with urgency or panic scrambled to his feet

b : to move or climb hastily especially on all fours scramble over rocks

2a : to struggle eagerly or unceremoniously for possession of something scramble for front seats players scrambling for the ball

b : to get or gather something with difficulty or in irregular ways scramble for a living

3 : to spread or grow irregularly : sprawl, straggle

4 of an interceptor fighter aircraft : to take off quickly in response to an alert

5 of a football quarterback : to run with the ball after the pass protection breaks down

transitive verb

1 : to collect or put together hastily scramble up a dinner for unexpected guests

2a : to toss or mix together in confusion : to throw into disorder : jumble Bad weather often scrambles the train schedules. scrambled the pages of the manuscript

b : to prepare (eggs) by stirring during frying scramble some eggs for breakfast

3 : to cause or order (interceptor fighter aircraft) to take off quickly Keating said he ordered the fighters to be scrambled immediately after seeing information about the crash on television.— Lolita C. Baldor

4 : to disarrange the elements of a transmission (such as a telephone or television signal) in order to make unintelligible to interception



Definition of scramble (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the act or an instance of scrambling: such as

a : the act of moving or climbing over something quickly especially on all fours a scramble over the boulders

b : a jostling and pushing for possession a scramble for the ball

c : an eager and unceremonious or unscrupulous struggle a scramble for power

d : a rapid emergency takeoff of interceptor fighter aircraft

e football : a play in which the quarterback runs with the ball while being chased by defensive players after the pass protection breaks down He gained 10 yards on the scramble.

2 : a disordered mass : jumble a … scramble of patterns and texturesVogue

3 golf : a team competition in which all the members of a team tee off on each hole, one of the tee shots is selected, all members hit shots from the position of the selected shot, one shot is again selected, and the process is continued until the hole is completed Sawgrass seemed a far cry from the first competitive golf event I ever played in, a weekend scramble at my local club.— David Owen

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Other Words from scramble


scrambler \ˈskram-b(ə-)lər \ noun

Examples of scramble in a Sentence


We scrambled over the boulders and kept climbing up the mountain. He scrambled up the ramp. reporters scrambling to finish stories by deadline Both players scrambled for the ball. News of the factory closing found workers scrambling to find jobs. It started to rain, and we all scrambled for cover. I'll scramble some eggs for breakfast.


a quick scramble over boulders the scramble for power in the country a scramble for the ball There was a mad scramble to fill vacant positions at the school.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

If a morning sugar rush isn’t your thing, Woody’s offers a smoked turkey breakfast sandwich ($7.49) and breakfast bowl with tater tots, scrambled eggs, and brisket gravy ($8.49). Lauren Delgado,, "First Bite: Woody's Lunch Box in Disney's Toy Story Land," 11 July 2018 The blazing fireball sent meteorite hunters scrambling to find fragments of the rare space rock. James Rogers, Fox News, "Asteroid discovery: Rare space rock fragment found," 9 July 2018 The exposure of an apparently random British couple to the same nerve agent used against former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal, in the same part of southwest England, has sent officials scrambling to discover the source of the contamination. NBC News, "U.K. woman dies after exposure to Novichok, the same nerve agent used in Skripal attack," 8 July 2018 Phil Davis, a courts and crime reporter for the paper, tweeted that the gunman shot out the glass door to the office and fired into the newsroom, sending people scrambling under desks. Brian Witte, Anchorage Daily News, "Suspect in Maryland newspaper to appear on 5 murder charges," 29 June 2018 Children scrambling atop a school-bus-size metal chicken. Harriot Manley,, "Burning Man comes and goes, but the experience is year-round in Reno," 28 June 2018 Buy Photo A Camden day shelter that served about 130 people daily closed Friday, leaving nearby social service agencies that assist the city’s homeless population scrambling to fill the gap., "After 23 years, grim finances shutter doors of New Visions day shelter in Camden," 22 June 2018 Consider this: Kentucky nonprofits scramble to figure out state's new sales tax laws Employees have used an outdated fitness center at the Main Street base, said Nick Nosko, manager of workplace solutions. Grace Schneider, The Courier-Journal, "Downtown Louisville gets a gleaming new gym, thanks to Humana," 21 June 2018 This isn't the first time the dockless scooters have left cities scrambling to create regulations. Ethan May, Indianapolis Star, "City asks Bird electric scooters to suspend service for 30 days," 19 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In their scramble to survive against the AMLO juggernaut, the PRD and PAN formed an alliance that undermined their brands. Kenneth F. Greene, Washington Post, "What’s next for Mexico? Here are 5 things you need to know.," 6 July 2018 Though Lyle's finely attuned to the anxieties of suburbanites on their scramble toward the complacencies of middle age, the wittiest segments of his script are the put-downs, which soon begin to grate. Irene Hsiao, Chicago Reader, "It's the end of the world at the Barbecue Apocalypse and nobody feels fine," 29 June 2018 Signature recipes My tofu scramble and my vegan mac n cheese. Kristine M. Kierzek, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Vegan since childhood found her calling as caterer, teacher," 8 June 2018 His scramble to get into Andover, for one thing, seems central. Nathan Heller, The New Yorker, "Who Really Stands to Win from Universal Basic Income?," 24 Mar. 2014 It was bleeped on air, but ran online, and set off a scramble inside Time Warner Inc., TWX 1.80% the network’s parent company. Alexandra Bruell, WSJ, "AT&T Beat the Government Over Time Warner—Now Comes the Hard Part," 13 June 2018 The conflicting schedules have led to frayed relationships, a scramble to rearrange receptions, bans on cellphones and an intervention by the Church of England. Georgi Kantchev, WSJ, "Loyalties Are Tested When the Big Game Falls on Your Big Day," 6 July 2018 Privacy - Terms Inside, the shop is home to a outward-facing counter top and a single table with a modest scramble of chairs. Brandon Rasmussen, idahostatesman, "Plant yourself at this new spot now open for coffee, tea in Boise," 5 July 2018 Still, the Wall Street Journal reports this morning that Musk’s mad scramble did finally achieve his goal of producing 5,000 Model 3s in (almost) a week. Alan Murray, Fortune, "Hello AMLO, EU Retaliation, Stocks Stumble: CEO Daily for July 2, 2018," 2 July 2018

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


1568, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a


1648, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for scramble


perhaps alteration of scrabble entry 1

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Statistics for scramble

Last Updated

9 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for scramble

The first known use of scramble was in 1568

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More Definitions for scramble



English Language Learners Definition of scramble

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to move or climb over something quickly especially while also using your hands

: to move or act quickly to do, find, or get something often before someone else does

: to prepare (eggs) by mixing the white and yellow parts together and then stirring the mixture in a hot pan



English Language Learners Definition of scramble (Entry 2 of 2)

: the act of moving or climbing over something quickly especially while also using your hands

: the act of moving or acting quickly to do, find, or get something

American football : a play in which the quarterback runs with the ball while being chased by defensive players


scram·ble | \ˈskram-bəl \
scrambled; scrambling

Kids Definition of scramble

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to move or climb quickly and if necessary on hands and knees … the boats were pushed into the water, and … we scrambled into them as best we could.— Scott O'Dell, Island of the Blue Dolphins

2 : to cook the mixed whites and yolks of eggs by stirring them while frying

3 : to put in the wrong order The letters of the word are scrambled.

4 : to work hard to win or escape something She had to scramble to earn a living.



Kids Definition of scramble (Entry 2 of 2)

: a disorderly rush They heard … a scramble and a shout: “Call off your dog! …”— Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House on the Prairie

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