Share this entry

Share this page

scramble

Syllabification: scram·ble
Pronunciation: /ˈskrambəl
 
/

Definition of scramble in English:

verb

1 [no object] Make one’s way quickly or awkwardly up a steep slope or over rough ground by using one’s hands as well as one’s feet: we scrambled over the wet boulders
More example sentences
  • The children had been tossed around underwater but managed to get to their feet and scramble to higher ground.
  • The ground was rocky and Damian quickly scrambled over to Thera.
  • Hopping up quickly, she scrambled down the side of the rock to flat ground; smoothing the winkles of her dress.
Synonyms
clamber, climb, crawl, claw one's way, scrabble, grope one's way, struggle, shinny
1.1Move hurriedly or clumsily from or into a particular place or position: she scrambled out of the car I tried to scramble to my feet
More example sentences
  • ‘What happened?’ Laras demanded, scrambling to a sitting position and examining his scraped knees and palms.
  • Kyle's eyes widened and he moved back, eventually scrambling back so fast he fell over.
  • Nikholas was sitting in front of the cell's bars, although he scrambled to a standing position as Ian entered.
1.2 (scramble into) Put (clothes) on hurriedly: Robbie scrambled into jeans and a T-shirt
More example sentences
  • Hastily he got out of bed and scrambled into his clothes.
  • I scrambled into my dressing gown and half-dashed half-limped down the stairs.
  • He recalls panic as sirens sounded and troops had to scramble into nuclear, biological and chemical protective suits in temperatures sometimes topping 130F.
1.3 [with object] informal Perform (an action) or achieve (a result) hurriedly, clumsily, or with difficulty.
Example sentences
  • Then he had a shot which struck the post before being scrambled away by the visitors.
  • Frotunately, the kick cracked the foot of the post and was scrambled away.
  • David Wetherall headed the cross for Watford's first corner which was scrambled away.
1.4 [with infinitive] Struggle or compete with others for something in an eager or uncontrolled and undignified way: firms scrambled to win public-sector contracts
More example sentences
  • His family is struggling and scrambling to deal with not only the emotional issues but the financial impact as well.
  • The media bombard the public with calls for more government spending and eager politicians scramble to help in the spend-up.
  • The media giant is pulling apart its empire as it scrambles to compete in a changed media world.
Synonyms
jostle, scuffle, tussle, struggle, strive, compete, contend, vie, jockey
1.5 [with object] Order (a fighter aircraft or its pilot) to take off immediately in an emergency or for action.
Example sentences
  • The Air Force scrambled interceptor aircraft to investigate, but they found nothing.
  • The aeronautical rescue co-ordination centre at RAF Kinloss immediately scrambled a helicopter.
  • A Royal Navy Rescue Helicopter was scrambled as was the Coastguard rescue helicopter from Stornoway.
1.6(Of a fighter aircraft or its pilot) take off immediately for action.
Example sentences
  • Fighter jets and Blackhawk helicopters scrambled before the plane was identified and escorted to the Washington airport.
  • If the plane is acting suspiciously, fighter jets could scramble to intercept.
  • In Britain, Royal Air Force fighter planes scrambled today to escort a Greek jetliner to a London airport.
1.7 Football (Of a quarterback) run around with the ball behind the line of scrimmage while looking for an open receiver.
Example sentences
  • He can scramble to avoid pressure and pick up yardage on the run, but he doesn't have a pro arm and is accurate in streaks.
  • There are four new starters on an inexperienced line, so the team needs a quarterback who can scramble and react to the blitz.
  • Brad Johnson scrambles for 10 yards on third down to get the first down.
1.8 Football Run forward with the ball when unable to pass to an open receiver.
Example sentences
  • He must learn to protect the ball better when passing and scrambling.
  • The second play nobody was open so I scramble all the way in for a touchdown.
  • Great work from the forwards took them to the Caerphilly line, but John Petrie was unable to scramble over.
2 [with object] Make (something) jumbled or muddled: maybe the alcohol has scrambled his brains
More example sentences
  • His brain was scrambled, a mess of hash browns, but some twisted force kept him moving.
  • After scrambling her brain on joint custody, she has plunged into the maelstrom of superannuation rights for same sex couples.
  • I'm going to work today so I won't be able to idle away hours scrambling my brain with these issues.
Synonyms
muddle, confuse, mix up, jumble (up), disarrange, disorganize, disorder, disturb, mess up
2.1Prepare (eggs) by beating them with a little liquid and then cooking and stirring them gently.
Example sentences
  • Push everything to one side, and gently scramble the eggs in the same pan.
  • It tastes great, whether you're making salad dressing or scrambling a few egg whites.
  • The eggs have to be softly scrambled, and cooked in butter.
2.2Make (a broadcast transmission, a telephone message, or electronic data) unintelligible unless received by an appropriate decoding device: (as adjective scrambled) scrambled television signals
More example sentences
  • If he can't meet members of the JTTF face-to-face, he talks to them on a secure telephone that scrambles his conversations.
  • All data in the payloads is scrambled, but framing bytes in the overhead consist of fixed data patterns and thus are not scrambled.
  • When we negotiate, our clients certainly want a program, which scrambles a signal so you can't copy it.

noun

[usually in singular] Back to top  
1A difficult or hurried clamber up or over something: an undignified scramble over the wall
More example sentences
  • The next hour was a constant scramble through tangled trees, around in circles, and hiding behind bushes.
Synonyms
1.1A walk up steep terrain involving the use of one’s hands.
Example sentences
  • Crisp air, soaring mountain faces, a scramble up a chain ladder that took us up a short cliff face and then a walk across the summit plateau brought us to what felt like the lip of the world.
  • This delivers a scramble over boulders and down the backside of a fairly impressive granite dome.
  • Fine views gradually emerge of falls across the steep canyon, though don't try the hazardous scramble down to them.
1.2An eager or uncontrolled and undignified struggle with others to obtain or achieve something: a scramble for high-priced concert seats
More example sentences
  • The war was a scramble for the control of the second largest oil reserves in the world and a move to establish its imperial hegemony.
  • Both sides embarked on an escalating public relations battle and a frantic scramble for the moral high ground.
  • As even public universities become more privatized, the scramble for external funding wedges the two castes further apart.
Synonyms
tussle, jostle, scrimmage, scuffle, struggle, free-for-all, competition, contention, vying, jockeying;
muddle, confusion, melee
1.3An emergency takeoff by fighter aircraft.
2A disordered mixture of things: the program produced a scramble of the letters of the alphabet
More example sentences
  • Pro-democracy politicians have put the best face they can on a confusing scramble to realign their election strategy in advance of the September Legco election.
  • Back in Dili the next day the confusion created by the scramble of so many players in the campaign is on show for all to see and hear.
  • On some pieces the letters are outlined, resulting in a jumbled scramble of dirty lines and tainted colour.

Origin

late 16th century: imitative; compare with the dialect words scamble 'stumble' and cramble 'crawl'.

More
  • This is an imitative word comparable to the dialect words scamble meaning ‘stumble’ and cramble meaning ‘crawl’. The word scram which appeared in the early 20th century is probably from the verb scramble.

Derivatives

scrambling

1
Pronunciation: /-b(ə)liNG/
noun
Example sentences
  • In the interest of supposed fairness, the order of names is not alphabetical but was determined by a scrambling of letters.
  • I bet those safeguards could be lifted with just a firmware revision to prevent the scrambling and encryption of the vehicle identities.
  • A frantic scrambling was heard as someone crashed into something and a low voice muttered, ‘Ow!’

Words that rhyme with scramble

amble, bramble, Campbell, gamble, gambol, ramble, shamble

Definition of scramble in:

Share this entry

Share this page

 

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day tenebrous
Pronunciation: ˈtɛnɪbrəs
adjective
dark; shadowy or obscure