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Origin uncertain. Compare earlier dialectal scramb ‎(pull with hands).




  1. (Britain) shouted when something desirable is thrown into a group of people who individually want that item.


scramble ‎(third-person singular simple present scrambles, present participle scrambling, simple past and past participle scrambled)

  1. (intransitive) To move hurriedly to a location, especially by using all limbs against a surface.
    • 2012 18 April, Phil McNulty, “Chelsea 1-0 Barcelona”, BBC Sport:
      As half-time approached Fabregas had another chance to give Barcelona the lead. He collected an incisive Messi pass and this time beat Cech, who required Cole to scramble back and clear the ball off the line.
    • 1898, J. Meade Falkner, Moonfleet Chapter 3
      When I saw the coffin I knew that I was respited, for, as I judged, there was space between it and the wall behind enough to contain my little carcass; and in a second I had put out the candle, scrambled up the shelves, half-stunned my senses with dashing my head against the roof, and squeezed my body betwixt wall and coffin.
  2. (intransitive) To proceed to a location or an objective in a disorderly manner.
  3. (transitive, of food ingredients, usually including egg) To thoroughly combine and cook as a loose mass.
    I scrambled some eggs with spinach and cheese.
  4. (transitive) To process (telecommunication signals) to make them unintelligible to an unauthorized listener.
  5. (transitive, military) To quickly enter (vehicles, usually aircraft) and proceed to a destination in response to an alert, usually to intercept an attacking enemy.
  6. (intransitive, sports) To partake in motocross.
  7. (intransitive) To ascend rocky terrain as a leisure activity.
  8. (transitive) To gather or collect by scrambling.
    to scramble up wealth
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Marlowe to this entry?)
  9. To struggle eagerly with others for something thrown upon the ground; to go down upon all fours to seize something; to catch rudely at what is desired.
    • Milton
      Of other care they little reckoning make, / Than how to scramble at the shearer's feast.


Derived terms[edit]


scramble ‎(plural scrambles)

  1. A rush or hurry
  2. (military) An emergency defensive air force mission to intercept attacking enemy aircraft.
  3. A motocross race
  4. Any frantic period of activity.


Derived terms[edit]