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 Instead of stressing over frequent flyer miles or upgrades, many of us had to scramble to make ends meet. Scott Mcmurren, Anchorage Daily News, "Here’s what Alaska travelers can expect now that we’re in 2021," 2 Jan. 2021 Fittingly, the Pilots had to scramble right before their season opener when Idaho, a team participating in the tournament Portland was hosting, had a potential positive COVID-19 test. oregonlive, "How the Portland Pilots men’s and women’s basketball teams have navigated confusion, frustration ... and hope in 2020," 22 Dec. 2020 An Australian news crew had to scramble to rescue a dog off a beach following wild weather. Alex Chaet, CNN, "Must-watch videos of the week," 18 Dec. 2020 If he is suddenly blocked from living at Mar-a-Lago, the Secret Service would most likely have to scramble to develop a new plan to protect him at a different location. Washington Post, "Mar-a-Lago neighbors to Trump: Spend your post-presidency elsewhere," 15 Dec. 2020 The Raiders had to scrap their schedule after Dallas County mandated a late start, so Settle had to scramble to find teams to play. Sean Collins, Dallas News, "Sunnyvale started from behind in 2020 — now, the Raiders are in the midst of a playoff run," 17 Nov. 2020 Amazon instituted inventory limits this summer to avoid a repeat of the logistics scramble that snarled deliveries to shoppers early in the pandemic. Star Tribune, "Amazon inventory limits make it tough for merchants to meet demand," 23 Dec. 2020 As companies race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine and countries scramble to secure doses, questions about the use of pork products — banned by some religious groups — has raised concerns about the possibility of disrupted immunization campaigns. Fox News, "Concern among Muslims over halal status of COVID-19 vaccine," 21 Dec. 2020 Most ciphers used today by computers rely on mathematics to scramble messages. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "Zodiac Killer cipher is cracked after eluding sleuths for 51 years," 12 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun On top of a scramble by companies to set up remote-work stations, rising demand for home schooling and home entertainment were also expected to drive up sales. Angus Loten, WSJ, "CIO Scramble to Equip Remote Workers Sparked Best PC Growth Rate in Decade," 11 Jan. 2021 The first play was his 28-yard scramble in the third quarter, going from the Steelers 44-yard line to the 16. Scott Patsko, cleveland, "Browns Winners and Losers of Week 17: Divisional trilogies, Baker Mayfield and 1-31 survivors," 4 Jan. 2021 Then quarterback Aaron Rodgers put together a methodical 75-yard drive that lasted 8 minutes, 49 seconds and ended his 6-yard scramble for a 21-14 lead. Carlos Monarrez, Detroit Free Press, "How this third-quarter Detroit Lions' sequence lost the game vs. the Green Bay Packers," 14 Dec. 2020 The final weeks of their second-half scramble for a playoff bid might leave them with few options but to test the thesis Cook can hold up to an historic workload. Ben Goessling, Star Tribune, "Dalvin Cook's 2020 workload could be the biggest in Vikings history," 7 Dec. 2020 That’s because of the many measures that winter resorts have imposed in their scramble to ward off COVID-19 infections. Los Angeles Times, "Here’s what pandemic-era skiing and snowboarding will look like this winter," 25 Nov. 2020 His scramble on a busted play in the third quarter ended up a 21-yard gain. Charlie Long Contributing Writer,, "Dylan Simmons rushes for five touchdowns in Country Day's district win over St. Martin's," 23 Oct. 2020 His 13-yard scramble on third-and-8, in fact, finished off ND’s only TD drive of the day. Eric Hansen, The Indianapolis Star, "Notre Dame football: Passing game lacks championship touch in victory," 18 Oct. 2020 Gatewood’s best weapon remains his running ability, an area Wilson also thrives as evidenced by his 51-yard scramble to set up the first touchdown against Mississippi State. Jon Hale, The Courier-Journal, "UK Insider: There is little proof a quarterback switch would fix Kentucky football offense," 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

16 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Scramble.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jan. 2021.

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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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