Definition of scrabble in English:


Line breaks: scrab¦ble
Pronunciation: /ˈskrab(ə)l


[no object]
  • 1Scratch or grope around with one’s fingers to find, collect, or hold on to something: she scrabbled at the grassy slope, desperate for purchase
    More example sentences
    • Giles tugged desperately at the manacles, his fingers scrabbling upward against the chain dangling them from the ceiling.
    • The tiny knots of the branch dug into his neck as Merlin sought to find a purchase with his fingers, scrabbling against the oily branch.
    • The boat was tilted almost vertically into the turn, and my fingers scrabbled for purchase in the slippery wood of the deck that I was careening down.
    scratch, grope, rummage, root, pole, grub, scavenge, fumble, feel, clamber, scramble
    archaic grabble
  • 1.1(Of an animal) scratch at something with its claws: a lonely dog was scrabbling at the door
    More example sentences
    • There are several false alarms, but eventually his dogs scrabble madly at the base of a tree.
    • Birds and other unseen creatures scrabble about in the windswept bushes of central park, but I would rather not deliberate too much about that.
    • This sunny, summer evening, we are watching small dogs scrabble around on a drab linoleum floor.
  • 1.2 [with adverbial of direction] Scramble or crawl quickly: lizards scrabbling across the walls
    More example sentences
    • ‘Remove your hands,’ said Sean in a harsh voice while Sakura quickly scrabbled away and leaned on the wall.
    • Claire quickly scrabbled up the branch, Jarret right behind her.
    • Should he scrabble backwards towards the house?


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  • 1 [in singular] An act of scratching or scrambling for something: he heard the scrabble of claws behind him
    More example sentences
    • Late one evening I heard a scrabble on the roof.
    • There was a scrabble of paws and claws on stone, punctuated by a few grunts.
    • A scrabble sounded behind them and it seemed as though someone had put a blindfold over their eyes.
  • 2 (Scrabble) [mass noun] trademark A game in which players build up words on a board from small lettered squares or tiles.
    More example sentences
    • So, we were playing obscene Scrabble with double points for swear words and cocktail names.
    • I, on the other hand, will be feeding my face and cleaning the kitchen before heading back up here to play Scrabble.
    • Several more rounds of speed Scrabble followed with a growing band of enthusiasts.


mid 16th century (in the sense 'make marks at random, scrawl'): from Middle Dutch schrabbelen, frequentative of schrabben 'to scrape'. The noun sense 'struggle to achieve something' is originally a North American usage dating from the late 18th century.

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