scram·​ble | \ ˈskram-bəl How to pronounce scramble (audio) \
scrambled; scrambling\ ˈskram-​b(ə-​)liŋ How to pronounce scramble (audio) \

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 How to pronounce scramble (audio) \ noun

Examples of scramble in a Sentence

Verb 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. Noun 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 Despite ending the policy, unaccompanied minors are also still arriving at the border in large numbers, leaving the administration to scramble to house thousands of children. Matthew Brown, USA TODAY, "Biden's 100 days: Where some of the president's early executive orders stand now," 30 Apr. 2021 Add to that the reality that the political dynamics of infrastructure scramble regional and ideological lines, and the work for leadership grows. Lauren Fox, CNN, "Bipartisan talks on infrastructure heat up as Biden prepares for big push," 27 Apr. 2021 Thorne showed the ability to scramble under pressure a few times, though on one rollout his pass got picked off by nickel back Michael Dowell. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan State football QB battle between Payton Thorne, Anthony Russo simmers into summer," 25 Apr. 2021 Oftentimes, they are left with unused doses of the precious medicine at the end of a clinic and must scramble to find people ready and willing to get a shot before the vaccines expire. Chris Serres, Star Tribune, "'You can feel the joy': One nurse's race to vaccinate as many Minnesotans as she can," 23 Apr. 2021 Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson, left, and Los Angeles Lakers guard Wesley Matthews scramble for a loose ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, April 17, 2021, in Los Angeles. Eric Walden, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Extremely short-handed Utah Jazz throw the kitchen sink out there in overtime loss to Lakers," 17 Apr. 2021 Yet McCord bounced back on the next play to scramble for a first dow. Nathan Baird, cleveland, "Ohio State football’s C.J. Stroud showed in the Spring Game why he leads the quarterback competition," 17 Apr. 2021 In Arizona and in south Texas, the Border Patrol has been releasing migrant families in border communities, leaving nonprofits to scramble to respond. Rafael Carranza, The Arizona Republic, "Biden taps Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus to lead overburdened U.S. border enforcement agency," 12 Apr. 2021 Justin Rose, who led after each of the first two days, had to scramble mightily just to manage his second straight 72. Paul Newberry, ajc, "On a suddenly soggy day at Augusta, some guys fail to adjust," 11 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The two not selected by the 49ers, however, almost certainly will go as the next quarterbacks selected, with a potentially wild scramble by QB-lacking clubs seeking to trade up. Mark Heim |, al, "NFL Draft 2021 live stream (4/29): How to watch online for free, TV info, time, draft order," 29 Apr. 2021 The two not selected by the 49ers almost certainly will go in the top 15, with a potentially wild scramble by QB-lacking clubs seeking to trade up. Barry Wilner, Star Tribune, "NFL seeks return to normalcy with draft on Lake Erie shores," 28 Apr. 2021 Bulgarelli added a 21-yard scramble on the possession. Nick Frazier,, "Nick Bulgarelli led another scoring drive right before halftime. The senior quarterback just keeps making plays for Wauconda. ‘We’re lucky to have him.’," 27 Mar. 2021 When Albarado’s opponent fell out at the last minute, Bedford launched a mad scramble to find a replacement, finally calling a fighter named Bob Perry. John Whisler, San Antonio Express-News, "'Shotgun' became a world champion and put Uvalde boxing on the map," 11 Mar. 2021 After falling behind by a touchdown, Jalon Jones finished a nine-play, 67-yard drive with a 4-yard scramble to the end zone. Adam Hunsucker, USA TODAY, "Deion Sanders leads Jackson State to wild win over Grambling State, 33-28," 6 Mar. 2021 Despite pinning Winters Mill at its own 5-yard line on the ensuing punt, the Falcons found life after a 36-yard scramble on by Maus. Justin Fitzgerald,, "Bradford, South Carroll football take care of Winters Mill in opener," 6 Mar. 2021 Pratt went 5 for 5 for 64 yards on the opening series, adding a 7-yard scramble before connecting with Jackson for a 21-yard touchdown that put the Wave ahead 21-12. G Smith,, "Taking the next step: Tulane ends 36-year losing streak to ranked team," 14 Nov. 2020 Fifty-six of those Hurricanes rushing yards came on one scramble from D’Eriq King. David Furones,, "Ten things we learned in Miami Hurricanes’ 42-17 loss at No. 1 Clemson," 11 Oct. 2020

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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Time Traveler for scramble

Time Traveler

The first known use of scramble was in 1568

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Statistics for scramble

Last Updated

4 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Scramble.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 May. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce scramble (audio) \
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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