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

Surveillance video released by the company showed the plane skidding out of control and barely missing a worker who was able to scramble out of the way. Doug Phillips,, "Small plane that crashed at Boca Raton airport had just been checked by pilot, mechanic, crash report says," 17 Sep. 2019 Because the indecision forced the kicking team to scramble, and in the rush to get the field goal off before the play clock expired, the kicking team lined up with too many players on the field. Shawn Windsor, Detroit Free Press, "Mark Dantonio blamed refs for Michigan State football's loss. He should blame himself," 15 Sep. 2019 On third-and-6, Frank Harris scrambled left and vaulted into the air. Nick Talbot,, "UTSA’s loss to Army not a setback," 14 Sep. 2019 Several for-profit colleges and universities have shut down in recent years, forcing students to scramble to continue or complete their education. Eric Stirgus, ajc, "Georgia lawmaker sponsors bill to help students when school shuts down," 13 Sep. 2019 Finally, Kondrak and Hauer assumed the manuscript was an anagram, meaning the letters in each word have been scrambled. Courtney Linder, Popular Mechanics, "The Truly Baffling Case of the Ancient Voynich Manuscript," 12 Sep. 2019 Workers and soldiers in major farming areas such as South Hwanghae province and South Pyongan province scrambled to drain flooded fields and rice paddies and tend to fallen rice plants and corn, the newspaper said., "Earlier, Typhoon Lingling lashed the Korean Peninsula, leaving five people dead in North Korea and three dead in South Korea.," 10 Sep. 2019 But with the looming 2022 redistricting set to scramble the lines of the state’s congressional districts, the timing could be right for anyone already contemplating retirement. John Wildermuth,, "Time could be right for California Democrats thinking of House retirement," 10 Sep. 2019 As police investigated the crash site, several gun shots rang out about a block away, causing crowds of departing fairgoers to scramble from the scene. Fox News, "3 shot in chaotic scene outside Minnesota State Fair: report," 3 Sep. 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

23 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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transposition of initial sounds of words

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