- objects strewn or scattered about; scattered rubbish.
- a condition of disorder or untidiness: We were appalled at the litter of the room.
- a number of young brought forth by a multiparous animal at one birth: a litter of six kittens.
- a framework of cloth stretched between two parallel bars, for the transportation of a sick or wounded person; stretcher.
- a vehicle carried by people or animals, consisting of a bed or couch, often covered and curtained, suspended between shafts.
- straw, hay, or the like, used as bedding for animals or as protection for plants.
- the layer of slightly decomposed organic material on the surface of the floor of the forest.
- cat litter.
- to strew (a place) with scattered objects, rubbish, etc.: to be fined for littering the sidewalk.
- to scatter (objects) in disorder: They littered their toys from one end of the playroom to the other.
- to be strewn about (a place) in disorder (often followed by up): Bits of paper littered the floor.
- to give birth to (young), as a multiparous animal.
- to supply (an animal) with litter for a bed.
- to use (straw, hay, etc.) for litter.
- to cover (a floor or other area) with straw, hay, etc., for litter.
- to give birth to a litter: The cat had littered in the closet.
- to strew objects about: If you litter, you may be fined.
- pick of the litter,
- the best or choicest of the animals, especially puppies, in a litter.
- the best of any class, group, or available selection.
Origin of litter
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
- small refuse or waste materials carelessly dropped, esp in public places
- (as modifier)litter bin
- a disordered or untidy condition or a collection of objects in this condition
- a group of offspring produced at one birth by a mammal such as a sow
- a layer of partly decomposed leaves, twigs, etc, on the ground in a wood or forest
- straw, hay, or similar material used as bedding, protection, etc, by animals or plants
- See cat litter
- a means of conveying people, esp sick or wounded people, consisting of a light bed or seat held between parallel sticks
- to make (a place) untidy by strewing (refuse)
- to scatter (objects, etc) about or (of objects) to lie around or upon (anything) in an untidy fashion
- (of pigs, cats, etc) to give birth to (offspring)
- (tr) to provide (an animal or plant) with straw or hay for bedding, protection, etc
Word Origin and History for pick of the litter
c.1300, "a bed," also "bed-like vehicle carried on men's shoulders" (early 14c.), from Anglo-French litere "portable bed," Old French litiere "litter, stretcher, bier; straw, bedding," from Medieval Latin lectaria "litter" (altered in French by influence of lit "bed"), from Latin lectus "bed, couch," from PIE *legh-to-, from root *legh- "to lie" (see lie (v.2)).
Meaning extended early 15c. to "straw used for bedding" (early 14c. in Anglo-French) and late 15c. to "offspring of an animal at one birth" (in one bed); sense of "scattered oddments, disorderly debris" is first attested 1730, probably from Middle English verb literen "provide with bedding" (late 14c.), with notion of strewing straw. Litter by 19c. had come to mean both the straw bedding and the animal waste in it after use.
- A flat supporting framework, such as a piece of canvas stretched between parallel shafts, for carrying a disabled or dead person; a stretcher.
- The offspring produced at one birth by a multiparous mammal.brood
Idioms and Phrases with pick of the litter
pick of the litter
The best of a group, as in He was first in the ticket line so he had the pick of the litter. This term, alluding to the most desirable one from a litter of puppies or kittens, supplanted such earlier variants as pick of the market, pick of the parish, and pick of the basket. [Early 1900s]