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

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Unlike younger residents, people with mobility issues are unable to scramble into basements when artillery shells or missiles land nearby. Washington Post, 7 May 2022 This illustrates the European need to scramble to find oil replacements. Ian Palmer, Forbes, 5 May 2022 Ukraine’s valiant resistance has shown how highly motivated defenders with high-tech weapons can scramble the calculus of military power. Roger Wicker, WSJ, 4 May 2022 Yet manufacturing is under pressure as the war in Ukraine pushes up the price of energy and key components and continues to scramble global shipping. Julia Horowitz, CNN, 22 Apr. 2022 Higher temperatures can cause the eggs to scramble. Robin Miller, USA TODAY, 14 Apr. 2022 But Grubhub, which wasn’t originally a delivery platform and instead relied on restaurants to make their own deliveries, was arguably beaten by both platforms in terms of logistics and spending and had to scramble to catch up. Laura Forman, WSJ, 1 May 2022 When Maryland legalized medical cannabis, licensees had to scramble to build an industry. Giacomo Bologna, Baltimore Sun, 20 Apr. 2022 South Florida schools may have to scramble to purchase new math textbooks after the state rejected some of their selections, saying the books may contain material that’s unsuitable for the state’s public schools. Scott Travis, Sun Sentinel, 18 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In February, city leaders announced the ambitious timeline to end Sullivan operations and began fast-tracking several projects in a scramble to implement the exit strategy negotiated between the Bronson administration and the Assembly. Emily Goodykoontz, Anchorage Daily News, 7 May 2022 In the hysterical post-Roe scramble, Democrats are sure to show their hand on this radicalism. Nate Hochman, National Review, 6 May 2022 Halloween 2020 was a mad scramble to scrape together COVID-safe events for folks who had felt trapped for months. oregonlive, 24 Sep. 2021 The White House pivot has also put the U.S. and its vast oil and gas reserves in shale rock back at the center of a global scramble for energy resources as a bulwark against petrostates and authoritarian regimes. Timothy Puko, WSJ, 26 Mar. 2022 And Russian-Iranian rivalry is increasing, because there’s a kind of scramble for the spoils after the war in terms of postwar reconstruction, in terms of contracts to exploit mineral resources, et cetera. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, 9 Mar. 2022 Europe’s scramble raises the prospect of a global battle over supplies in a market that analysts say has little slack. New York Times, 4 Apr. 2022 The scramble among potential candidates to fill his unexpired term started almost immediately, and Friday was the deadline to file official paperwork. Compiled Democrat-gazette Staff From Wire Reports, Arkansas Online, 3 Apr. 2022 The city of San Marcos hosts a free egg scramble and carnival games along with inflatables from 9 to 11:30 a.m. April 16 at Williams Barn at Walnut Grove Park, 1950 Sycamore Drive. San Diego Union-Tribune, 1 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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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Dictionary Entries Near scramble



scrambled eggs

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Statistics for scramble

Last Updated

16 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Scramble.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for scramble


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

More from Merriam-Webster on scramble

Nglish: Translation of scramble for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of scramble for Arabic Speakers


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