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 Organizations had to scramble to help out individual homeowners while the borough government focused on different projects. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 1 Aug. 2022 Organizations had to scramble to help out individual homeowners while the borough government focused on different projects. Michael S. Lockett, Anchorage Daily News, 25 July 2022 The bank had come in and taken away the house, and Joanie had to scramble to sell off everything before it was put out on the street. Lauren Groff, The New Yorker, 27 June 2022 Clinic staff had to scramble to cancel about 100 appointments scheduled for the next week. al, 27 June 2022 The Fever then had to scramble to get back or rotate another player over, leaving the corner open. Wilson Moore, The Indianapolis Star, 11 June 2022 Ames hit his drive into the water on the par-4 14th and had to scramble for bogey. San Francisco Chronicle, 29 May 2022 With only a few months’ notice, organizations had to scramble for compliance. Lucia Milică, Forbes, 19 May 2022 That deal may still go through, but many countries will have to scramble for their next purchases as export bans spread. Aurora Almendral, Quartz, 17 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The designation may help spur more investment in combatting the disease amid a scramble for scarce vaccines in the United States. Editors, USA TODAY, 24 July 2022 Bannon also stands out, amid the scramble for pardons among lawmakers and Trump advisers working to overturn the election, as the only one who ultimately received clemency after Jan. 6. Anchorage Daily News, 11 July 2022 Bannon also stands out, amid the scramble for pardons among lawmakers and Trump advisers working to overturn the election, as the only one who ultimately received clemency after Jan. 6. Josh Dawsey, Washington Post, 10 July 2022 At what point does the scramble for status and income become a severe failing? Kyle Smith, WSJ, 9 June 2022 But then there was Curry in the fourth quarter Wednesday night, hitting the parquet floor amid a wild scramble for the ball. Ron Kroichick, San Francisco Chronicle, 8 June 2022 After a scramble for the loose football that included a fumble by Houston after a recovery, New Jersey retained possession at its 47-yard line and ended up with a touchdown 10 plays later to take a 20-19 lead. Mark Inabinett |, al, 22 May 2022 Morant’s knee injury was the center of controversy because of a play in which Golden State’s Jordan Poole yanked at Morant’s knee during a scramble for the ball. Gary Washburn,, 21 May 2022 Buttigieg said the administration has taken numerous steps to alleviate the scramble for parents, including creating more flexibility for the WIC program and exploring the importation of formula from abroad. Melissa Quinn, CBS News, 15 May 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

8 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Scramble.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Aug. 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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