scram·​ble | \ ˈskram-bəl How to pronounce scramble (audio) \
scrambled; scrambling\ ˈskram-​b(ə-​)liŋ How to pronounce scrambling (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 scrambler (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 As businesses across the US scramble to restart operations and breathe life into a cratering economy, many are exploring both low- and high-tech solutions to keeping workers safe. Will Knight, Wired, "Tech Could Be Used to Track Employees—in the Name of Health," 17 May 2020 Firefighters on the roof scrambled down ladders with their protective coats on fire. Stefanie Dazio And Frank Baker, Houston Chronicle, "11 Los Angeles firefighters hurt while running from blast," 17 May 2020 With states scrambling to pay unemployment claims, a vast attack that flooded unemployment agencies with fraudulent claims appears to have siphoned millions of dollars. New York Times, "Coronavirus Live Updates: Obama Cites Need for Leadership," 17 May 2020 With thousands of new coronavirus cases still being reported around the world every day -- and 300,000 dead since the pandemic began -- researchers are scrambling to develop a vaccine. David Culver, CNN, "Exclusive: Lack of immunity means China is vulnerable to another wave of coronavirus, top adviser warns," 16 May 2020 The shot was true and seconds later the hunters scrambled out of the blind and ran to the expired bird. Paul A. Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Tale of a pompadoured tom emerges from Wisconsin turkey fields," 16 May 2020 The long wait culminated beneath the grandstands, where soldiers and volunteers scrambled between idling vehicles and towering pallets of food. Tony Cook, The Indianapolis Star, "Thousands of Hoosiers wait hours at one of Indiana's largest pandemic food distributions," 16 May 2020 Retailers are responding by turning their stores into makeshift warehouses, scrambling the normal flow of online shipments from distribution centers to homes. WSJ, "Today’s Logistics Report: Setting New Driving Hours; FedEx’s Retail Limits; Freight Trains from China," 15 May 2020 Still, the nationwide shutdown has left some artists and organizations scrambling. Lindsey Mcginnis, The Christian Science Monitor, "Tired of Netflix? Museums and theaters bring the arts home.," 15 May 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Shares of his Kossan Rubber Industries Bhd., which produces 28 billion disposable latex gloves annually, have soared 35% this year as medical and emergency workers from Shanghai to San Francisco scramble to find protective gear. Yoojung Lee,, "Glove-Maker That Got Its Start With AIDS Surges on Covid Demand," 15 May 2020 Underlining the risks of Russia’s often chaotic scramble to fight the virus, an intensive care unit caught fire at a St. Petersburg hospital on Tuesday, killing five Covid-19 patients, and a similar blaze at a Moscow hospital on Saturday killed one. Anton Troianovski, New York Times, "As Coronavirus Overruns Russia, Doctors Are Dying on the Front Lines," 14 May 2020 Both companies had previously warned their annual dividends for 2019 were under review amid an industrywide scramble to raise and save cash to weather the coronavirus pandemic. Ben Dummett, WSJ, "Fiat Chrysler, Peugeot Scrap Billion-Dollar Dividends as Merger Faces Pressure," 14 May 2020 That has forced a scramble to line up investments to stay afloat. Morgan Hines, USA TODAY, "Norwegian Cruise Line will relaunch five ships at a time, estimates 5-6 months before fleet is back up," 14 May 2020 The crisis has already prompted a scramble to find production methods that are coronavirus-compliant, and to make recorded productions available to watch from home. Helen Lewis, The Atlantic, "Will Theater Survive the Pandemic?," 12 May 2020 As supplies of personal protective equipment have run low globally during the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s a scramble to secure what’s out there. Morgan Krakow, Anchorage Daily News, "Alaska turns to overseas supplier to build up PPE during global shortage, statewide reopenings," 9 May 2020 The Lions answered with a field goal to move ahead, 23-14, but Rodgers responded with an 84-yard touchdown drive including a 16-yard scramble on 3rd-and-11. Jr Radcliffe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "50 in 50: Rodgers finds Rodgers for a remarkable Hail Mary finish," 3 May 2020 Tiny bodies with motoring legs scramble and scamper, mostly within the rectangular white lines. Marc Bona, cleveland, "Taking a walk to mark 20 years in Northeast Ohio," 30 Apr. 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

21 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Scramble.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for scramble


How to pronounce scramble (audio)

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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