Definition of scramble in English:

scramble

verb

  • 1no object, with adverbial of direction Make one's way quickly or awkwardly up a steep gradient or over rough ground by using one's hands as well as one's feet.

    ‘we scrambled over the damp boulders’
    • ‘You can also scramble over rocks, thanks to the shoe's rubber lug sole.’
    • ‘After scrambling up the steep banks and ploughing through the undergrowth with my boat in tow, I emerged bedraggled and muddy.’
    • ‘Hopping up quickly, she scrambled down the side of the rock to flat ground; smoothing the winkles of her dress.’
    • ‘She broke down in tears as she relived her ordeal and told how she desperately tried to scramble up the steep banking and how she tried to fight off her attacker.’
    • ‘There were no flat landings and we all had to scramble up the steep bank pulling on ferns and trees.’
    • ‘Joe scrambled up the hill as the rockets blasted the grass below.’
    • ‘He scrambled up the hill with the vegetation catching and pulling at his clothes.’
    • ‘I gave chase with the others, scrambling over a steep ridge, mainlining adrenaline, wanting to see the cat run one more time.’
    • ‘The children had been tossed around underwater but managed to get to their feet and scramble to higher ground.’
    • ‘After falling awkwardly injuring her leg, she was unable to get to her feet and scramble back up the embankment to the path above.’
    • ‘Then people began screaming again and pointing and we ran and scrambled up the hill.’
    • ‘We take all morning to climb the steep ridge, scrambling over huge granite boulders, taking care not to dislodge stones, which might hit hikers below.’
    • ‘Without another moment's pause, Darien rushed forward, scrambling up the wall.’
    • ‘The ground was rocky and Damian quickly scrambled over to Thera.’
    • ‘Tripping and scrambling over the uneven ground, she fled blindly.’
    • ‘It's worth scrambling into some of the tombs to see the finely marbled stone, ribbed and veined into extraordinary patterns by the forces of nature.’
    • ‘Pedestrians took their lives in their hands running the tree-lined gauntlet, forced to scramble up steep bankings if two vehicles met on the narrow stretch.’
    • ‘Jameson scramble up the rock face and moved to a position where he could see the path.’
    • ‘We scrambled over some rocks and were soon looking down from about 60 feet onto the lagoons.’
    clamber, climb, crawl, claw one's way, scrabble, grope one's way
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Move hurriedly or clumsily from or into a particular place or position.
      ‘she scrambled out of the car’
      ‘I tried to scramble to my feet’
      • ‘Her crew of 24 scrambled into lifeboats as the 50,000-tonne, 200-metre ship went down within 90 minutes.’
      • ‘‘What happened?’ Laras demanded, scrambling to a sitting position and examining his scraped knees and palms.’
      • ‘He landed roughly on the ground and quickly scrambled to his feet.’
      • ‘Nikholas was sitting in front of the cell's bars, although he scrambled to a standing position as Ian entered.’
      • ‘She backed away from him nervously, tripping over a stick, then quickly scrambling to her feet.’
      • ‘She was up and pushing herself off of the ground quickly and Tristin scrambled away.’
      • ‘Panicking, I tried to scramble up and move away, but was too late.’
      • ‘Workers scrambled to their positions in preparation for what had been determined to be an attack from a monster.’
      • ‘He quickly let her through, and she scrambled hurriedly to the door, but not before her math teacher got to her.’
      • ‘Chuck scrambled into her room and began looking everywhere for her.’
      • ‘She interrupted him again, this time with a hurried bow, and scrambled out of the room before he could finish the question.’
      • ‘She scrambled into bed and turned off the light.’
      • ‘I scrambled to a sitting position and stared at the person who had burst down the door.’
      • ‘The child scrambled clumsily to her feet and began to run in the other direction.’
      • ‘I used to take the double-decker bus into town to shop for my mother, and Porrock used to go with me, scrambling up the steep stairs to the top deck.’
      • ‘He and several colleagues scrambled into the hall, where they faced a terrifying choice: to their right, fire; to their left, thick smoke.’
      • ‘Doctors scrambled around hurriedly requesting tools and pushing nurses out of the way.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, those few who had managed to scramble ashore were sheltering below a ruined Turkish fort.’
      • ‘Kyle's eyes widened and he moved back, eventually scrambling back so fast he fell over.’
      • ‘Hailey hurriedly scrambled off the bed, and lunged at James with her arms outstretched.’
      struggle, hurry, scurry, scud, scutter, hasten, rush, race, run
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2scramble into Put (clothes) on hurriedly.
      ‘Robbie scrambled into jeans and a T-shirt’
      • ‘He recalls panic as sirens sounded and troops had to scramble into nuclear, biological and chemical protective suits in temperatures sometimes topping 130F.’
      • ‘‘I am now a Bucks fan and I will make sure I'm at the stadium whenever the Bucks play at home,’ he said while scrambling into the familiar black and gold jersey.’
      • ‘I scrambled into my dressing gown and half-dashed half-limped down the stairs.’
      • ‘I was madly scrambling into my drysuit while Bill got the details from the divers, who had been drifting with this group for an hour or so.’
      • ‘She scrambled into her clothing and ran out to the couch.’
      • ‘Sporadic sounds from instruments and band members yelling filled the room as everyone scrambled into their uniforms and went over their music one last time.’
      • ‘Hastily he got out of bed and scrambled into his clothes.’
    3. 1.3informal with object Perform (an action) or achieve (a result) hurriedly, clumsily, or with difficulty.
      ‘Cork scrambled a 1–0 win over Monaghan’
      • ‘Frotunately, the kick cracked the foot of the post and was scrambled away.’
      • ‘And he will have been delighted with the way his team kept battling to the end and came closest to scrambling a winner in both recent draws.’
      • ‘A Harte free was dropped by Robbie Jameson before the Eadestown keeper recovered and scrambled the ball to safety.’
      • ‘Three minutes later a mix-up in the Fenor goalmouth was penalised when Brian Canty appeared to get the final touch as the ball was scrambled to the net.’
      • ‘That fell to Basturk, who cottoned on to Sas' through ball only to see his header scrambled off the line by Omar Daf.’
      • ‘Then he had a shot which struck the post before being scrambled away by the visitors.’
      • ‘Bath then captured 5-22 and must have been distraught when Bolton were able to scramble a two-wicket win off the final delivery.’
      • ‘He raced clear of the defence to scramble the ball past keeper Mark Cairns.’
      • ‘Mercer, Lee Ashcroft and Foster then combined in a move that was scrambled away from the Telford line.’
      • ‘The young defender almost gave Thistle the lead as early as the sixth minute, but his header from a corner was scrambled clear by Gordon Russell.’
      • ‘But the ball also struck the far post and the Newry defence scrambled it clear.’
      • ‘Livingston were under the cosh, scrambling the ball clear twice in injury time, but held on desperately for points.’
      • ‘He went off on a weaving run before chipping through only for the ball to be scrambled clear.’
      • ‘Hoyne broke through, was bottled up before he scrambled a pass to Shefflin and he first-timed a low shot from close range.’
      • ‘There was still a chance for Andy Kirk, but the ball was scrambled away.’
      • ‘The ball is scrambled away for a throw.’
      • ‘David Wetherall headed the cross for Watford's first corner which was scrambled away.’
      • ‘The midfielder's fiercely hit left wing cross was scrambled clear.’
      • ‘Udall then had to scramble the corner away under pressure from Brian Pennington.’
      • ‘Gary Louth scrambled an early goal for Bentham and they got a fortunate second when a shot flipped up off a divot and the Grange keeper caught it but fell back over his line.’
    4. 1.4with infinitive Struggle or compete with others for something in an eager or uncontrolled and undignified way.
      ‘firms scrambled to win public-sector contracts’
      • ‘It was investors looking for bargains who produced last week's momentum, not shorts scrambling to cover their positions.’
      • ‘This is a new benchmark for LCD production that competitors will have to scramble to emulate.’
      • ‘It is left now to the white collar worker to scramble for a position.’
      • ‘The lunchroom turned into a full-fledged panic as the students scrambled to find shelter.’
      • ‘Shutting the operation down has left ISP Channel affiliates scrambling.’
      • ‘Under green flag racing, drivers are in fighting mode, scrambling for track position.’
      • ‘The potential has international ad agencies scrambling for position.’
      • ‘She is scrambling to make up ground against her rivals.’
      • ‘Three powerful recent blasts from three wholly different regions in space have left scientists scrambling.’
      • ‘The media giant is pulling apart its empire as it scrambles to compete in a changed media world.’
      • ‘With a market downturn, firms are scrambling to sustain those billable hours and are rethinking how much they should pay their PMs, he says.’
      • ‘The media bombard the public with calls for more government spending and eager politicians scramble to help in the spend-up.’
      • ‘They have taken over key positions there and are scrambling to devise a plan to salvage the business.’
      • ‘The Aggies have been far less competitive than they were last year and are scrambling to salvage something positive out of this season.’
      • ‘His family is struggling and scrambling to deal with not only the emotional issues but the financial impact as well.’
      • ‘Most hospitals are scrambling like crazy to try to fill vacant positions.’
      • ‘Our salespeople really had to scramble to maintain our position.’
      • ‘As a backlash against this silly move builds, the Greens are now scrambling to explain away the mess.’
      • ‘The bell rang and I jumped before quickly scrambling to collect my books.’
      • ‘The software sector lends itself to mergers and takeovers as firms scramble to keep pace with market changes and shifting demand.’
      jostle, scuffle, scrimmage, tussle, battle, struggle, strive, compete, contend, vie, jockey
      View synonyms
  • 2with object Order (a fighter aircraft or its pilot) to take off immediately in an emergency or for action.

    ‘the Hurricanes were scrambled again, this time meeting Italian fighters’
    • ‘He replied that he had numerous reports and that the Air Force had scrambled jet fighters to attempt to catch them, but had failed to get close to them.’
    • ‘Police were dispatched to the scene and an RAF helicopter was scrambled to airlift him to Raigmore Hospital where he was being treated last night.’
    • ‘This leads to the question of why the air force failed to scramble its fighter jets as soon as it received news that four planes had been hijacked.’
    • ‘Maj Martin said fighter jets had been scrambled 1,500 times since the September 11 attacks.’
    • ‘The Russian air force scrambled a fighter jet to intercept a Manchester-bound airliner that had strayed into its air space’
    • ‘A rescue helicopter from RAF Lossiemouth was scrambled to aid lifeboat crews in the four-hour search.’
    • ‘Now, we've scrambled twelve aircraft, but I can't send them in without presidential authority.’
    • ‘The call was to let him know there were going to be jets scrambled after the aircraft.’
    • ‘Fighter jets have been scrambled in the area and all three major metropolitan airports have been closed.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘They scrambled fighter interceptors because they were tracking strange objects on radar making all kinds of radical maneuvers.’
    • ‘Fearing further action from Chinese military, the air force scrambled two IDF fighters to aid the Mirage jets.’
    • ‘An RAF helicopter and a police spotter aircraft were scrambled, and 90 rescuers scoured the moor near Keld, County Durham.’
    • ‘RAF helicopters were scrambled and the plane was greeted by armed police backed up by teams of firefighters and paramedics.’
    • ‘The Ministry of Defence confirmed an RAF Tornado F3 fighter would have been scrambled if the plane had been hijacked.’
    • ‘Six squadrons of Spitfires and Hurricanes are scrambled.’
    • ‘A Royal Navy Rescue Helicopter was scrambled as was the Coastguard rescue helicopter from Stornoway.’
    • ‘An RAF rescue helicopter was scrambled from Chivenor in Devon and she was winched up from the beach and flown to Withybush hospital.’
    • ‘It proved unsuccessful as no enemy was encountered although Sabres were scrambled.’
    1. 2.1no object (of a fighter aircraft or its pilot) take off for emergency action.
      ‘as the jet headed towards Italian airspace, two F104 fighters scrambled from a base in Sicily to intercept it’
      • ‘We scrambled, but one plane had trouble and did not get off.’
      • ‘In Britain, Royal Air Force fighter planes scrambled today to escort a Greek jetliner to a London airport.’
      • ‘We scrambled in squadrons of 12 aircraft from Biggin Hill and climbed like crazy to get over the Germans so we could dive on them.’
      • ‘If the plane is acting suspiciously, fighter jets could scramble to intercept.’
      • ‘Seven helicopters scrambled to join the rescue effort there.’
      • ‘German fighter planes scramble to intercept him but he lands safely.’
      • ‘I think that there were serious errors in not notifying them in time, serious errors in terms of deciding which air bases were tasked with scrambling.’
      • ‘The aircraft are designed to scramble and intercept incoming enemy jets before they can pose a threat to the carriers.’
      • ‘Fighter jets scrambled and diverted the plane to Halifax, Nova Scotia.’
      • ‘Fighter jets scramble too late to intercept a private plane flying very close to the White House.’
      • ‘True, fighters can scramble to a hot spot earlier than a cruiser, but what's the point in doing so when they get shot down by enemy cruisers in two seconds?’
      • ‘All twelve of Devil fighters scrambled and accelerated to top speed and engaged the puny defences of Sky Base Beta.’
      • ‘RAF jets will patrol an air-exclusion zone while others will be ready for scrambling at the Leuchars air force base near St Andrews.’
      • ‘They will be forced to deploy their guards outside to try and hold you off while one of their squadrons scrambles from the spaceport.’
      • ‘The objects were also picked up by radar, prompting jet fighters to scramble to intercept.’
      • ‘Jets and bombers scrambled again; the strikes would go on.’
      • ‘Fighter jets scrambled into the clear blue skies above the American capital.’
      • ‘Fighter jets and Blackhawk helicopters scrambled before the plane was identified and escorted to the Washington airport.’
  • 3with object Make (something) jumbled or muddled.

    ‘maybe the alcohol has scrambled his brains’
    • ‘It is a sometimes unfathomable loudness, so loud the brain just gives up on the ears, assuming the information they are sending is scrambled nonsense.’
    • ‘Yes, I know I'm scrambling the metaphor, but it works for me so let's ignore it and move on.’
    • ‘Two years ago he went there for the Seniors Open with his emotions scrambled.’
    • ‘I'm going to work today so I won't be able to idle away hours scrambling my brain with these issues.’
    • ‘For a second or two, my brain was totally scrambled.’
    • ‘I asked for that data under the Official Information Act, and I received a scrambled reply from the ministry that said I am allowed a briefing on it.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Indeed, time seems scrambled, moving fast and slow together.’
    • ‘The film is not quite a confessional cry for help, but on some level it functions as scrambled autobiography.’
    • ‘We sat and watched the screen as it fizzed black and white shapes that during the course of the last three hours had scrambled my tiny mind.’
    • ‘Ultimately, unless his fever was reduced with intravenous liquids, it would scramble his brain like eggs in a frying pan.’
    • ‘The study fuelling the latest claims about mobile phones scrambling the mind in fact shows nothing of the kind.’
    • ‘In the journey of life, those hours spent scrambling your memory for all you can remember about Shakespeare, sonnets and seismology marks an important milestone.’
    • ‘I've spent a lot of time twisting the knobs, getting the mix almost right before going too far and scrambling the hues again.’
    • ‘She has a keen ear for the various mutations of hip-hop that fill clubs on both sides of the Atlantic, and she scrambles these styles in a way that sounds both fresh and inevitable.’
    • ‘Determined to have their say before senility scrambled their wits, they would sit down in the afterglow of evening to bear witness to the nature of their times.’
    muddle, confuse, mix up, jumble, jumble up, disarrange, disorganize, disorder, disturb, throw into disorder, throw into confusion, get into a tangle, mess up
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    1. 3.1 Cook (eggs) by beating them with a little liquid and then cooking and stirring them gently.
      ‘you may have your eggs scrambled or boiled’
      • ‘He made breakfast for the two of them, keeping up a constant flow of chatter while he scrambled some eggs and pan-toasted a few slices of bread.’
      • ‘For example, try storing uncracked eggs with truffles for a few days, then scramble the eggs.’
      • ‘He simply shrugged and hummed while scrambling some eggs on the hot plate.’
      • ‘When my mom and dad came in a while later, I had the eggs scrambled and cooked to a nice golden brown.’
      • ‘Usually, the only solution is soaking and scrubbing, which is why I scramble eggs only in non-stick pans.’
      • ‘In a separate bowl, beat eggs and prepared them to be scrambled.’
      • ‘A legacy from Italian colonial days is the frittata, made by scrambling eggs with onion and peppers.’
      • ‘By the time I had begun frying the bacon and scrambling the eggs, my uncle had joined me in the kitchen.’
      • ‘Eggs, whether scrambled, poached or boiled, are popular with everyone.’
      • ‘The eggs have to be softly scrambled, and cooked in butter.’
      • ‘I actually think the offer of a kipper was just a bluff, and doubt that the ‘chef’ in those guest houses would've been able to scramble an egg.’
      • ‘Push everything to one side, and gently scramble the eggs in the same pan.’
      • ‘I also roasted a delicata squash and loosely scrambled some pretty brown eggs, and then I ate very dark chocolate.’
      • ‘After scrambling the eggs and buttering the toast, she divided it up on three plates, sliding one in front of Geoff and another in front of Rick.’
      • ‘This amazing new kitchen appliances perfectly scrambles an egg inside the shell.’
      • ‘She begins to scramble some eggs, when Steve comes up from the basement.’
      • ‘It tastes great, whether you're making salad dressing or scrambling a few egg whites.’
      • ‘I advised Caroline to replace her breakfast porridge with scrambled or poached egg and grilled tomatoes.’
      • ‘Add the eggs and stir gently until softly scrambled.’
    2. 3.2 Make (a broadcast transmission or telephone conversation) unintelligible unless received by an appropriate decoding device.
      ‘the signal is scrambled into code’
      • ‘Voice data also arrives scrambled, but it's more complicated because of the real-time nature of VOIP.’
      • ‘A song will be scrambled, and downloaded simply as raw, unintelligible data.’
      • ‘That could cause bits of information to disappear or become scrambled in transmission, and render the chip useless.’
      • ‘The scrambled data can only be unlocked with passwords that you determine.’
      • ‘When we negotiate, our clients certainly want a program, which scrambles a signal so you can't copy it.’
      • ‘If he can't meet members of the JTTF face-to-face, he talks to them on a secure telephone that scrambles his conversations.’
      • ‘The basis of conditional access technology rests on scrambling and descrambling the pictures on your screen.’
      • ‘He also said a weak signal could be scrambled and be undetected by another broadcaster.’
      • ‘All data in the payloads is scrambled, but framing bytes in the overhead consist of fixed data patterns and thus are not scrambled.’
      • ‘What we don't know is if NSA is able to crack PGP messages scrambled using 1024 character codes.’
      • ‘Use a secure browser - software that encrypts or scrambles information you send over the Internet - to guard the security of your online transactions.’
  • 4American Football
    no object (of a quarterback) run with the ball behind the line of scrimmage, avoiding tackles.

    ‘McNabb scrambled in the third quarter and threw a touchdown pass to Maddox’
    • ‘There are four new starters on an inexperienced line, so the team needs a quarterback who can scramble and react to the blitz.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I recall a game from my playing days with the Broncos when we were playing the Vikings in Minnesota and John Elway scrambled in the red zone.’
    • ‘Brad Johnson scrambles for 10 yards on third down to get the first down.’
    • ‘He can scramble enough for his receivers to get open, and he can throw a tight pass in traffic.’

noun

  • 1usually in singular A difficult or hurried clamber up or over something.

    ‘an undignified scramble over the wall’
    • ‘The next hour was a constant scramble through tangled trees, around in circles, and hiding behind bushes.’
    clamber, climb, ascent, trek
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A mountain walk up steep terrain involving the use of one's hands.
      ‘the route gives an excellent scramble up on to the narrow summit ridge’
      • ‘The first is the scramble through the lakeshore rocks in the fog, where shadowy figures pop up and disappear before it can be determined who they are.’
      • ‘It's a quick scramble down from the summit to my skis.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘A long, lingering snow patch gave a superb standing glissade back down to the col before the last scramble up to An Caisteal, the castle.’
      • ‘That first ascent was a good scramble, with a little light rock climbing and much vertigo.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It involved a scramble over a scree pile, then a bit of free-climbing up a fissure in the granite.’
      • ‘The Askival Pinnacle can be climbed on its west side by a difficult scramble but can be avoided by a traverse on the east side of the ridge.’
      • ‘It is a scramble, but it's not difficult and, if the crest is too airy for you, it's easy enough to trace a less exposed route on the east side of the ridge.’
      • ‘The walk up the river bed was more of a scramble, as it had rained overnight and the large, algae covered boulders were treacherous and slippery.’
      • ‘Together, they have scaled the stony scramble of Stirrup Crag at Yewbarrow, hit the heights of Helvellyn twice and negotiated the precarious pathway of Striding Edge.’
      • ‘This is passed by a delicate traverse on the left to a scramble down and final chimney, or else is laddered also to the left.’
      • ‘From there it is a straightforward, if steep, scramble on a scree-covered footpath all the way to the summit.’
      • ‘A rough scramble reaches the highest rock, the mountain's summit.’
      • ‘A steeper, rocky scramble leads directly to the summit of Ben More at 966m.’
      • ‘At the Hermitage they had a glorious scramble up the Mueller Glacier to Mount Ollivier on the Sealy Range before they cycled on to Wanaka, Cromwell and Dunedin.’
      • ‘The choice of routes covers the full spectrum of climbing grades from difficult scrambles, to E8 multi-pitch climbs achievable only by those with Spiderman-like abilities.’
      • ‘You can walk much of the 2-mile-long crack, formed thousands of years ago, but at times it's more of a scramble and a squeeze.’
      • ‘After a short scramble through impressive rock architecture, turn right over a slab to gain the summit of north peak, an airy viewpoint.’
    2. 1.2British A motorcycle race over rough and hilly ground.
      ‘a local landowner allowed some kids to hold a motorbike scramble in the woods’
      • ‘Speedway racing is not the only interest of the new club - members will go to scrambles and TT races.’
      • ‘In August 1988 planning permission was refused for the proposed use for a motor cycle scramble / motor cycle track for practice only.’
    3. 1.3 An eager or uncontrolled and undignified struggle with others to obtain or achieve something.
      ‘I lost Tommy in the scramble for a seat’
      • ‘There is a scramble - a modern gold rush - to patent as much of the genome as possible.’
      • ‘The mad scramble for tickets is continuing in both counties with just over 26,000 allocated in Cork and Kilkenny.’
      • ‘As with test publishers, the scramble to boost revenues sometimes leads test-prep companies to violate ethical standards.’
      • ‘The key is to offer candidates good reason to turn away from the scramble for corporate and private dollars.’
      • ‘Now its dash to grab market share has turned into a scramble to sack workers.’
      • ‘Numerous human rights violations have been committed in the scramble for these riches.’
      • ‘The lesser lights realistically are hoping to lift support for their party, bearing in mind the post-election scramble to form a government.’
      • ‘I had to drop all four of them off, and it was a real scramble to get their shoes together and to get their homework material together, and to drop them off like that.’
      • ‘Expect the scramble for cement, for lumber, for raw materials in the booming southeast to continue.’
      • ‘A rise in the number of expensive private fitness centres in Scotland has led to an unprecedented scramble for customers.’
      • ‘Yorkshire schools are resorting to poaching teachers from each other as a mad scramble to beat the shortages and fill vacancies in time for September begins.’
      • ‘They were unaware that a degraded environment leads to a scramble for scarce resources and may culminate in poverty and even war.’
      • ‘Again, if demand for rented accommodation slackens further, investors might high-tail it out of the market, pushing prices down in the scramble.’
      • ‘As even public universities become more privatized, the scramble for external funding wedges the two castes further apart.’
      • ‘The scramble for rail tickets began today, as eager passengers tried to secure scarce Christmas seats.’
      • ‘At one point water began flowing from the back of a firetruck and firefighters were seen making a mad scramble to turn off the supply.’
      • ‘Doctors, social workers and people with HIV describe a desperate scramble to gain access to lifesaving medications.’
      • ‘A property tycoon has put an historic Scottish abbey up for auction for more than £1million, starting a scramble among local people to raise the cash.’
      • ‘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.’
      struggle, hurry, rush, race, scurry
      tussle, jostle, scrimmage, scuffle, battle, struggle, free-for-all, competition, contention, vying, jockeying
      View synonyms
  • 2usually in singular An emergency take-off by fighter aircraft.

    ‘the scramble might be a training exercise or it might not’
  • 3usually in singular A disordered mixture of things.

    ‘the girl's mouth was a scramble of orthodontist's hardware’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘On some pieces the letters are outlined, resulting in a jumbled scramble of dirty lines and tainted colour.’
    muddle, jumble, mix-up, confusion, entanglement, mishmash, shambles
    View synonyms

Origin

Late 16th century: imitative; compare with the dialect words scamble ‘stumble’ and cramble ‘crawl’.

Pronunciation

scramble

/ˈskramb(ə)l/