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


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

The news comes as city officials are scrambling to address the crisis of mentally ill and drug addicted homeless on San Francisco’s streets. Trisha Thadani,, "Nonprofit ponies up $3 million to get those in crisis off SF’s streets and into temporary beds," 12 Sep. 2019 As European leaders scrambled to work out a deal, Iranian authorities announced in July that the country would violate the accord for a second time by producing uranium at a 5% enrichment level. Ramin Mostaghim, Los Angeles Times, "Iran backs off more nuclear deal commitments, heightening concern about the agreement’s future," 7 Sep. 2019 Trailing 21-20 with under 2:00 to go, Auburn converted a fourth-and-three by a matter of inches as quarterback Bo Nix scrambled for just enough to move the chains. oregonlive, "Inside Auburn’s game-winning touchdown to Seth Williams, who Oregon contained prior to final drive," 1 Sep. 2019 As companies scramble to find ways around the ever-increasing tariffs that the world’s two largest economies impose on each other’s goods, other countries are being drawn into a conflict that might have no winners. Klint Finley, WIRED, "Trump’s Trade War Isn’t Just a US–China Problem," 26 Aug. 2019 From a culinary standpoint, however, that influence was bastardized by the French and English, as colonizers scrambled to re-create familiar recipes with ingredients that weren’t readily available or easy to produce on Dominica. Fortune, "Foraging for High-End Meals on Dominica, the Caribbean’s Best-Kept Secret," 25 Aug. 2019 That’s why university officials are scrambling to shape legislation moving rapidly through Congress. Jeffrey Mervis, Science | AAAS, "U.S. universities battle a security storm in Congress," 29 July 2019 Avocado prices have shot upward by as much as 91 percent over this same time last year, and that’s translated to guacamole pandemonium as cooks scramble to adjust. Paul Stephen,, "Holy guacamole are avocados expensive! Here are 4 other green dips," 24 July 2019 In fact, Franz's official visit to Michigan took place in the immediate aftermath of Beilein's departure, as the Wolverines scrambled in the early days of the coaching transition. Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan basketball and Franz Wagner are a perfect fit for this season," 7 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

His decision to assume senior status on the appeals court opened up one of the two Connecticut seats on the court and set in motion a scramble to replace him. Edmund H. Mahony,, "Federal Judge Christopher Droney to leave U.S. Circuit Court for position with Hartford law firm," 27 Aug. 2019 The deadline has set off a scramble within the Trump administration to prepare for the move on a multitude of fronts, including security and trade. NBC News, "U.S. and U.K. work towards post-Brexit trade deals," 13 Aug. 2019 Ethan Zubak scored after a scramble following Rising defense's inability to clear the ball. azcentral, "Phoenix Rising FC rally to beat LA Galaxy II, extend record win streak," 3 Aug. 2019 Conaway's retirement would likely set off a scramble among Republicans interested in representing his sprawling district, which includes San Angelo and stretches almost all the way to North Texas. Tom Benning, Dallas News, "Rep. Mike Conaway, a Midland Republican, will not seek re-election, Politico reports," 31 July 2019 Montreal forward Saphir Taider then put a shot over the bar after a scramble in the box in the 42nd minute. Jamie Goldberg,, "Portland Timbers fall 2-1 to Montreal Impact with heavily-rotated lineup," 26 June 2019 Daniels rushed three times for 27 yards on the drive, including a 15-yard scramble for a first down. Michelle Gardner, azcentral, "ASU looks to ride momentum, freshmen into Pac-12 opener vs. Colorado," 16 Sep. 2019 Hundreds of huddled migrants left on street corners; missing paperwork; a daily scramble for available beds—all the tumultuous result of the Trump administration’s refusal to deal with the fallout from its own immigration policies. Aaron Cantú, The New Republic, "Inside Trump’s Border Chaos," 12 Sep. 2019 Medvedev began winning more of the marathon rallies and cat-and-mouse scrambles for drop shots around the net. Gerald Marzorati, The New Yorker, "Rafael Nadal Defeats Daniil Medvedev in the Best U.S. Open Men’s Final of This Century," 9 Sep. 2019

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 2019

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 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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More from Merriam-Webster on scramble

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with scramble

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for scramble

Spanish Central: Translation of scramble

Nglish: Translation of scramble for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of scramble for Arabic Speakers

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