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

On the third play from scrimmage in the third quarter, backup quarterback Gerry Bohanon broke three tackles and scrambled 38 yards before tripping in the open field to avert what would have been a 68-yard touchdown. Greg Luca,, "Baylor stifles UTSA in dominating win," 7 Sep. 2019 Meanwhile, the Sailors got things going offensively behind the tenacious running of junior running back Justin McCoy, the streaking passing and scrambling of junior quarterback Cole Lavin, and the big-play receiving of Aiden Goltz. Daily Pilot, "Newport Harbor football improves to 3-0 with comeback win at Aliso Niguel," 6 Sep. 2019 Hundreds of chickens escaped their cages and scrambled about the area. Michael Cabanatuan,, "I-80 reopens after chicken truck crash shut down westbound lanes in San Pablo," 5 Sep. 2019 That left the two scrambling to fill a $90,000 budget gap. Frederick Melo, Twin Cities, "A flying Juicy Lucy? Red Bull Flugtag returns to St. Paul Saturday," 5 Sep. 2019 Two of the women got to shallow water and scrambled to an island, but Allen disappeared under the water and wasn’t seen again. oregonlive, "Body of woman recovered from Willamette River," 4 Sep. 2019 Mayfield scrambled to his right and bounced off a hit from Carl Nassib before throwing to Kareem Hunt for a three-year gain. Scott Patsko,, "NFL fines Ndamukong Suh for preseason hit on Baker Mayfield, according to report," 1 Sep. 2019 The jeers turned to cheers quickly enough after Peterman scrambled 50 yards to the Rams’ 8-yard line, getting a screen block from Ateman. Jerry Mcdonald, The Mercury News, "Top eight takeaways from Raiders’ win over Rams," 10 Aug. 2019 On the second, the coverage was sticky enough that Stafford scrambled to his right to buy extra time. Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Lions observations: The dreaded conditioning hill, Stafford's latest pick," 31 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Boyles stepped out of a tackle in the backfield by Joseph Wiersma, extending the Chargers’ drive with a six-yard scramble on a third-and-five play. Andrew Turner, Daily Pilot, "Edison football falls short against Orange Lutheran," 6 Sep. 2019 The accident happened on the final spine-tingling scramble 400 feet up to the top of the world famous precipice. Peter Fimrite,, "Woman falls 500 feet to her death from cables at Half Dome in Yosemite," 6 Sep. 2019 Mr Siebel would be the first to admit that this scramble is likely to claim victims. The Economist, "Technology firms vie for billions in data-analytics contracts," 5 Sep. 2019 But the response to the 2014 Ebola epidemic proved that the same scramble-the-jets approach America used for warfare could be–and should be–deployed for humanitarian purposes. Belinda Luscombe, Time, "Former U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power Has a Lot of Stories to Tell—and No Problem Talking," 5 Sep. 2019 Across the state, a scramble was underway to move older Floridians to safer ground as a weakened but still dangerous Hurricane Dorian, once a Category 5 storm but now a vast Category 2, threatened the state’s Atlantic coast. New York Times, "Hurricane Dorian Tests Florida’s Ability to Move Older Adults Out of Harm’s Way," 3 Sep. 2019 And so its mercantilist policy is leading it toward a desperate scramble to gather these resources, especially in Africa. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, "What Was Free about Our Trade Relationship with China before Trump?," 30 Aug. 2019 Tate’s 31-yard scramble set up a 27-yard touchdown pass to Jamarye Joiner, who was wide open near the left pylon, the beneficiary of a busted coverage. Michael Lev, azcentral, "Arizona football comes up yard short in loss to Hawaii," 24 Aug. 2019 More than 325 youth representing 24 Fire Explorer posts from around the state scramble to put on firefighting gear, raise ladders and begin critical first aid in the Fire Explorer Challenge starting at 8 a.m. at Dan Patch Park Stage. Kathy Berdan, Twin Cities, "Today at the Fair: Friday, Aug. 23: Governor’s Fire Prevention Day," 23 Aug. 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

11 Sep 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

Comments on scramble

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to make a temporary encampment

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