View synonyms for litter


[ lit-er ]


  1. objects strewn or scattered about; scattered rubbish.
  2. a condition of disorder or untidiness:

    We were appalled at the litter of the room.

    Synonyms: clutter

  3. a number of young brought forth by a multiparous animal at one birth:

    a litter of six kittens.

  4. a framework of cloth stretched between two parallel bars, for the transportation of a sick or wounded person; stretcher.
  5. a vehicle carried by people or animals, consisting of a bed or couch, often covered and curtained, suspended between shafts.
  6. straw, hay, or the like, used as bedding for animals or as protection for plants.
  7. the layer of slightly decomposed organic material on the surface of the floor of the forest.

verb (used with object)

  1. to strew (a place) with scattered objects, rubbish, etc.:

    to be fined for littering the sidewalk.

  2. to scatter (objects) in disorder:

    They littered their toys from one end of the playroom to the other.

    Synonyms: derange, disarrange

  3. to be strewn about (a place) in disorder (often followed by up ):

    Bits of paper littered the floor.

  4. to give birth to (young), as a multiparous animal.
  5. to supply (an animal) with litter for a bed.
  6. to use (straw, hay, etc.) for litter.
  7. to cover (a floor or other area) with straw, hay, etc., for litter.

verb (used without object)

  1. to give birth to a litter:

    The cat had littered in the closet.

  2. to strew objects about:

    If you litter, you may be fined.


/ ˈlɪtə /


    1. small refuse or waste materials carelessly dropped, esp in public places
    2. ( as modifier )

      litter bin

  1. a disordered or untidy condition or a collection of objects in this condition
  2. a group of offspring produced at one birth by a mammal such as a sow
  3. a layer of partly decomposed leaves, twigs, etc, on the ground in a wood or forest
  4. straw, hay, or similar material used as bedding, protection, etc, by animals or plants
  5. a means of conveying people, esp sick or wounded people, consisting of a light bed or seat held between parallel sticks


  1. to make (a place) untidy by strewing (refuse)
  2. to scatter (objects, etc) about or (of objects) to lie around or upon (anything) in an untidy fashion
  3. (of pigs, cats, etc) to give birth to (offspring)
  4. tr to provide (an animal or plant) with straw or hay for bedding, protection, etc

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Other Words From

  • litter·er noun
  • anti·litter adjective
  • anti·litter·ing adjective
  • de-litter verb (used with object)
  • un·littered adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of litter1

First recorded in 1250–1300; Middle English litere “bed, litter,” from Anglo-French; Old French litiere, from Medieval Latin lectāria, equivalent to Latin lect(us) “bed” + -āria feminine of -ārius noun suffix; -er 2

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Word History and Origins

Origin of litter1

C13 (in the sense: bed): via Anglo-French, ultimately from Latin lectus bed

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Idioms and Phrases

  1. pick of the litter,
    1. the best or choicest of the animals, especially puppies, in a litter.
    2. the best of any class, group, or available selection.

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Synonym Study

See brood.

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Example Sentences

No more scooping litter twice a day, no more cluttering your living room with a clunky litter box.

This includes the cat’s routine of stepping into sandy-textured litter, doing its business, and burying the waste.

The discs can be covered with kitty litter to make your cat feel at home, perched on top of the toilet.

They aren’t texting their litter mates to catch up and swiping around on the furry equivalent of Bumble.

This is essentially an extra-strength garbage bag sprinkled with a proprietary mix of kitty litter for humans, which makes your waste solid, less stinky, and OK to deposit in a trash can.

We coo over how cute our cat is and minimize the drudgery of cleaning the litter box.

According to Swiss press reports, younger cats in the litter are the most tender and, as such, are the preferred cat cuts.

You'd think that when you get the pick of the litter, the litter would be great.

Remember when Chandler was sexually attracted to sharks and Phoebe raised a litter of baby rats?

He would always be throwing litter out the window and I would have to pick it up.

The plain furniture was stiffly arranged, and there was no litter of clothing or small feminine belongings.

Let my litter be prepared, and send men on horseback to provide relays of carriers every ten miles.

The exact mode in which the manure is to be managed must greatly depend on whether the supply of litter is large or small.

There is an old mother hog that has gotten quite wild, and has a litter of young ones with her that are hard to catch.

A piece of strong iron wire, which lay among the other litter, was inserted in a narrow slot, apparently a crack in the stone.


Related Words

Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.




littenlitterae humaniores