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 Many parents have complained that classes were sacrificed too easily when snowflakes fell, and many had to scramble for child care when schools were shut. Leslie Brody, WSJ, 4 May 2021 But the Dodgers, after losing Dustin May to a major arm injury Saturday, didn’t have to scramble for a starter Saturday. Los Angeles Times, 2 May 2021 Excess eggs can be saved to scramble for breakfast the next morning. New York Times, 8 Mar. 2021 This week will be the last time D.C. residents will have to scramble for a vaccine appointment on a Thursday or Friday morning. Washington Post, 3 Mar. 2021 Lawmakers had to scramble for safety and hide as rioters took control of the Capitol and delayed by hours the last step in finalizing Biden's victory. Lisa Mascaro And Mary Clare Jalonick, Chron, 13 Jan. 2021 In some instances, Smith was the No. 1 cornerback whose injuries forced the front office to scramble for replacements. Childs Walker,, 26 Nov. 2020 And as communities scramble to rebuild in the wake of a simultaneous siege and pandemic, one thing has never been clearer: Settler colonialism is terrible for public health. Natalie Shure, The New Republic, 24 May 2021 The idea was one of 12 pieces of legislation that passed the House or Senate on Tuesday as lawmakers scramble to advance bills before end of the regular session on Wednesday. James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News, 19 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The mad scramble during the final weeks of the Texas legislative session can be torturous, but that’s how most Texans who are paying attention like it. Gromer Jeffers Jr., Dallas News, 31 May 2021 The scramble for the $5 trillion car market is afoot. Ariel Cohen, Forbes, 26 May 2021 In the fifth month of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign, with the drug in plentiful supply, the scramble for an appointment is over. Anne Saker, The Enquirer, 14 May 2021 The scramble is on among California agencies to get a piece. Ralph Vartabedian, Los Angeles Times, 22 Mar. 2021 Far below the headlines of Alabama, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Clemson, the scramble was weird — and in the case of Army, painful. Pat Graham,, 21 Dec. 2020 The frenetic scramble for jobs in the next administration is already underway. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, 11 Nov. 2020 The scramble is on to get 320,000 Wisconsin absentee ballots turned in after Supreme Court refused to extend deadline to count them. Chicago Tribune Staff,, 28 Oct. 2020 The lease was up on their old location in the Dundee Hills, and the scramble was on to find a new tasting room. Michael Alberty | For The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, 10 Sep. 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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Learn More about scramble

Time Traveler for scramble

Time Traveler

The first known use of scramble was in 1568

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Statistics for scramble

Last Updated

9 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Scramble.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Jun. 2021.

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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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