[skrab-uh l]
See more synonyms for scrabble on
verb (used with object), scrab·bled, scrab·bling.
  1. to scratch or scrape, as with the claws or hands.
  2. to grapple or struggle with or as if with the claws or hands.
  3. to scrawl; scribble.
verb (used without object), scrab·bled, scrab·bling.
  1. to scratch or dig frantically with the hands; claw (often followed by at): scrabbling at a locked door to escape the flames.
  2. to jostle or struggle for possession of something; grab or collect something in a disorderly way; scramble.
  1. a scratching or scraping, as with the claws or hands.
  2. a scrawled or scribbled writing.
  3. a disorderly struggle for possession of something; scramble: After the fumble, there was a scrabble for the football.

Origin of scrabble

1530–40; < Dutch schrabbelen to scratch, frequentative of schrabben to scrape
Related formsscrab·bler, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for scrabbled

Historical Examples of scrabbled

  • I tell you, she scrabbled them up pretty quick, and we all helped her.

    Oldtown Fireside Stories

    Harriet Beecher Stowe

  • Sornal came to the end of the tape, then scrabbled about and found the beginning.

    Alarm Clock

    Everett B. Cole

  • Then he knocked a glass off the table, and scrabbled for the fragments.

    Tono Bungay

    H. G. Wells

  • Coughing and choking on what must be his own blood, he scrabbled at the knife and ripped it out.

    The Sky Is Falling

    Lester del Rey

  • She scrabbled among the papers, and held up the elevation of a strange square building to his startled eyes.

    Soul of a Bishop

    H. G. Wells

British Dictionary definitions for scrabbled


  1. (intr; often foll by about or at) to scrape (at) or grope (for), as with hands or claws
  2. to struggle (with)
  3. (intr often foll by for) to struggle to gain possession, esp in a disorderly manner
  4. to scribble
  1. the act or an instance of scrabbling
  2. a scribble
  3. a disorderly struggle

Word Origin for scrabble

C16: from Middle Dutch shrabbelen, frequentative of shrabben to scrape


  1. trademark a board game in which words are formed by placing lettered tiles in a pattern similar to a crossword puzzle
Derived FormsScrabbler, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for scrabbled



1530s, "to scrawl, scribble," from Dutch schrabbelen, frequentative of schrabben "to scratch," from the same root as scrape (v.). Meaning "to struggle, scramble" first recorded 1630s. Related: Scrabbled; scrabbling.



board game, 1949, proprietary name (registered U.S.), probably from scribble-scrabble "hasty writing" (1580s), a reduplication of scribble (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper