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

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 The weather has left overnight warming shelters that normally open in December scrambling to get ready. Sophie Carson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee warming shelters scramble to open earlier than ever as unexpected cold snap arrives," 12 Nov. 2019 Mayfield doesn’t see Beckham open, searching the middle of the field before scrambling to complete a sideline throw to Demetrius Harris. Ellis L. Williams, cleveland, "Where has the Cleveland Browns’ deep passing game gone and will it ever return? -- Film Review," 9 Nov. 2019 Gruden seemed most impressed by Stafford's ability to buy time by scrambling out of the pocket. Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press, "'They have a superstar QB:' Everything Jon Gruden said on TV about Matthew Stafford, Lions," 1 Nov. 2019 In the capital city New Delhi, residents are also preparing -- by scrambling to buy air purifiers and protesting the use of firecrackers. Jessie Yeung, CNN, "Ahead of Diwali, New Delhi residents fear they'll be choking on smog instead of celebrating," 25 Oct. 2019 Kingsbury's offense and Murray's scrambling ability are proving problematic for opposing defenses. Jeremy Cluff, azcentral, "NFL power rankings: Praising Arizona Cardinals, Kliff Kingsbury after three straight wins," 22 Oct. 2019 Jones quickly converted a third down after being scrambled from the bench after Tagovailoa’s injury. Michael Casagrande |, al, "Instant analysis: Alabama lights up Tennessee after Tua injury," 20 Oct. 2019 In the final period, down 20-17, Trask faced fourth-and-3 on South Carolina’s 34 before scrambling from pressure to pick up the first down with a 9-yard pass to Kyle Pitts. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Illinois stuns No. 6 Badgers 24-23 on McCourt game-ending FG," 19 Oct. 2019 With the Ducks scrambling to reset, Krug went to the bumper to Bergeron, who delayed a half-second to draw Anaheim’s attention., "“It’s always nice. That’s what I’m getting paid for,” said Pastrnak, who moved into second place in the NHL in goals (six, tied with Toronto’s Auston Matthews and Detroit’s Anthony Mantha; Edmonton’s James Neal has seven).," 15 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Jones hit the football with his fist, Chubb lost the handle and Patriots safety Devin McCourty won the rainy-day scramble at the New England 4-yard line to protect a 10-0 lead with 5:30 left in the first quarter. Mark Inabinett |, al, "Jonathan Jones uses ‘competitive speed’ to run down Nick Chubb," 30 Oct. 2019 The Ravens’ early attack was restrained to the rare big completion — a 50-yard bomb to rookie Miles Boykin on their second play from scrimmage, a 33-yard catch by Andrews off play-action — and the occasional scramble. Jonas Shaffer,, "‘You saw that fire’: Seahawks find out how hard it is to stop Lamar Jackson in Ravens’ 30-16 win," 20 Oct. 2019 According to a word count of the first hour of the debate, candidates at the top of the poll led the scramble for air time Warren dominated speaking times for the first parts of the debate, based on a USA TODAY analysis of preliminary transcripts. Maureen Groppe, USA TODAY, "Tensions flare between Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren at Democratic debate over big ideas vs. pragmatism," 15 Oct. 2019 On another, Garrett faced Brown and Yanda as Sheldon Richardson provided pressure up the middle, leading to a Jackson scramble for 17 yards. Scott Patsko, cleveland, "Myles Garrett had one QB pressure vs. Ravens, so what did he do all game?," 2 Oct. 2019 George Springer’s 28thhome run tied the game for Houston and Travis d’Arnaud’s 14thhomer regained the lead for Tampa Bay – led to a scramble for reliable pitching. Hunter Atkins, Houston Chronicle, "Rays take see-saw battle from Astros to avoid sweep," 29 Aug. 2019 The team let Parkey go this offseason which led to a mad scramble to find a new kicker. Charlotte Carroll,, "Carli Lloyd: 'I've Definitely Got Some Inquiries' in NFL After 55-Yard Field Goal," 22 Aug. 2019 That led to a mad scramble in the Defense Department to gather the military leaders who would attend. Michael D. Shear, New York Times, "With Flyovers and Flags, Trump Plays M.C. for the Fourth," 4 July 2019 That led to a scramble for generators by residents and small businesses fearing another big outage could hit without warning, plunging their lives once again into chaos. Washington Post, "Venezuela’s massive blackout sparks boom in generator sales," 13 June 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

20 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for scramble

The first known use of scramble was in 1568

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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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