[skram-buh l]

verb (used without object), scram·bled, scram·bling.

verb (used with object), scram·bled, scram·bling.


Origin of scramble

1580–90; blend of dial. scamble to stumble along, and scrabble (in the same sense) Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for scramble

Contemporary Examples of scramble

Historical Examples of scramble

  • There was a scramble on the instant for muskets, bags, and belongings.

    In the Valley

    Harold Frederic

  • The remainder of the ceremony was lost amid the hurry and scramble of the departure.

  • Without answering, the other Sister at once plunged into the midst of the scramble.

  • Somebody said you just had a scramble with old Dmitri himself.


    Dallas McCord Reynolds

  • Silver, even, would be treated with contempt, and there would be a scramble for gold.

    Changing Winds

    St. John G. Ervine

British Dictionary definitions for scramble



(intr) to climb or crawl, esp by using the hands to aid movement
(intr) to proceed hurriedly or in a disorderly fashion
(intr often foll by for) to compete with others, esp in a disordered mannerto scramble for a prize
(intr foll by through) to deal with hurriedly and unsystematically
(tr) to throw together in a haphazard manner; jumble
(tr) to collect in a hurried or disorganized manner
(tr) to cook (eggs that have been whisked up with milk and seasoning) in a pan containing a little melted butter
military to order (a crew or aircraft) to take off immediately or (of a crew or aircraft) to take off immediately
(tr) to render (speech) unintelligible during transmission by means of an electronic scrambler


the act of scrambling
a climb over rocks that involves the use of the hands but not ropes, etc
a disorderly struggle, esp to gain possession
military an immediate preparation for action, as of crew, aircraft, etc
British a motorcycle rally in which competitors race across rough open ground

Word Origin for scramble

C16: blend of scrabble and ramp
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 scramble

1580s (intransitive), perhaps a nasalized variant of scrabble (v.), in its sense of "to struggle, to scrape quickly." Transitive sense "to stir or toss together randomly" is from 1822. Broadcasting sense "to make unintelligible" is attested from 1927. Related: Scrambled; scrambling. Scrambled eggs first recorded 1843.


1670s, "an eager, rude contest or struggle," from scramble (v.). Meaning "a walk or ramble involving clambering and struggling with obstacles" is from 1755. Meaning "rapid take-off" first recorded 1940, R.A.F. slang.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper