Definition of scrabble in English:

scrabble

verb

[NO OBJECT]
  • 1 Scratch or grope around with one's fingers to find, collect, or hold onto something.

    ‘she scrabbled at the grassy slope, desperate for a firm grip’
    • ‘After Colette left he cleared his throat and looked through a newspaper, his long fingers scrabbling a bit at the pages.’
    • ‘She scrabbled in vain for purchase on the stone floor, which was smooth from the years of pedestrian traffic pounding the irregularities into powder.’
    • ‘It was pitch black and we were scrabbling around until 1am trying to find them.’
    • ‘He took his backpack off before lying completely on the floor and furiously scrabbling at the mortar with his fingers.’
    • ‘She turned to Ian enquiringly, as the boy scrabbled frantically on the floor looking for coins.’
    • ‘I began to scrabble and fumble around on the floor in search of some kind of weapon.’
    • ‘His fingers scrabbled over the plastic plating on the door next to him until they curled over the cold metal handle.’
    • ‘He jerked himself free from his own seatbelt and threw himself towards her window, scrabbling to get a hold on her.’
    • ‘Flinging open a cupboard and desperately scrabbling for some anti-inflammatory cream, I curse myself for positioning it in the most difficult to reach area of the top shelf.’
    • ‘Giles tugged desperately at the manacles, his fingers scrabbling upward against the chain dangling them from the ceiling.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘‘Sorry’ she mumbled, scrabbling on the floor for her dropped items.’
    • ‘The ladder cracked and he was suddenly unsupported in the darkness, scrabbling with both hands to hold on to timbers, losing his grip and dangling from the rope.’
    • ‘I caused bottlenecks in front of crowded Métro barriers, frantically scrabbling through my satchel for that sad little bag containing my tickets.’
    • ‘They scrabbled desperately at the rubble with their bear hands for signs of life.’
    • ‘Meanwhile I'm scrabbling in the bottom of my bag for coins, and skipping out on dinner because I don't want to spend $7 on soup.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He scrabbled to gain a grip on the wall and hold himself up as he breathed in the sweet air like an addict.’
    • ‘A group of women - made one by the black mystery of their costume - are scrabbling with their bare hands to dig a grave in rocky earth.’
    • ‘His fingers scrabbled at the stone and found holds, but not before he dropped a foot.’
    scratch, grope, rummage, root, pole, grub, scavenge, fumble, feel, clamber, scramble
    poozle
    grabble
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 (of an animal) scratch at something with its claws.
      ‘a dog was scrabbling at the door’
      • ‘‘Look, there's a nuthatch scrabbling on the tree trunk,’ the mother tells the little girl.’
      • ‘When it finished scrabbling, the rat would believe the faeces to be buried.’
      • ‘Both of the pitiful creatures shot away, scrabbling with claws and paws across the floor and out of sight.’
      • ‘The pigeons on the ledge outside scrabbled from side to side, as Catherine tapped at the glass with a fingernail.’
      • ‘His serenity makes you feel like a clucking chicken, scrabbling and pecking at the dusty ground, while he sits back and watches.’
      • ‘We've also had to put some rodent poison up there as something is scrabbling around - we haven't seen it so we don't know what!’
      • ‘This sunny, summer evening, we are watching small dogs scrabble around on a drab linoleum floor.’
      • ‘He was leaning on the railings, munching a meat pie and watching as the birds scrabbled for the crumbs.’
      • ‘Birds and other unseen creatures scrabble about in the windswept bushes of central park, but I would rather not deliberate too much about that.’
      • ‘Kaiyo's body twisted on the floor, paws scrabbling at the tile, tails flaring as if casting a spell.’
      • ‘Therre was no scratching and scrabbling in the dirt for these birds.’
      • ‘During the day, he paces up and down and puts his head on her lap; during nocturnal episodes, he barks and scrabbles against the bedroom door.’
      • ‘For a moment the kitten disappeared, then resurfaced, scrabbling frantically at the treacherous surface that gave no hold.’
      • ‘Last year one dog had to have two toes amputated after scrabbling insanely at his pen.’
      • ‘There are several false alarms, but eventually his dogs scrabble madly at the base of a tree.’
      • ‘It may be an idea to have no bare earth for the cats to scrabble in.’
      • ‘This one hatched faster than the first, fierce little claws punching through the fragile shell and scrabbling to get free.’
    2. 1.2[with adverbial of direction] Scramble or crawl quickly.
      ‘lizards scrabbling across the walls’
      • ‘I cried scrabbling to my feet and trying to run towards Carl.’
      • ‘Enter Dad, in flannel pyjamas, scrabbling across the floor on all fours.’
      • ‘He hurled himself at the wall, scrabbling up it on the run.’
      • ‘‘Remove your hands,’ said Sean in a harsh voice while Sakura quickly scrabbled away and leaned on the wall.’
      • ‘The cat quickly gives up all pretence of dignity and scrabbles up the fence as fast as it can go, leaving one very disappointed toddler in its wake.’
      • ‘He rolled off the bed, and on the floor, scrabbling across the room, and into the corner, huddling and shaking.’
      • ‘Should he scrabble backwards towards the house?’
      • ‘Claire quickly scrabbled up the branch, Jarret right behind her.’
      • ‘It was he who broke free first, delivering a hard kick to her stomach as he scrabbled away, his fingers reaching frantically for the hilt of his own knife.’
      • ‘Stuart moved towards my hunched body, but I scrabbled backwards away from him.’
      • ‘Then seeing the man lunge at her, she screeched and tried to scrabble away towards the garden maze.’
      • ‘Boots possessed rather remarkable climbing abilities and thought nothing of scrabbling up the brick wall on the open side of the garage to sit with me.’
      • ‘Suddenly, they all turn and start scrabbling down the path, the sound of a helicopter echoing overhead and sending a cloud of crows whirling into the sky.’
      • ‘At this Enela scrabbled to her feet, rushing for the door and her leave.’
      • ‘He glanced back to where his wife was having to use her hands sometimes to scrabble up the steep climb, eyes intent on the rock face.’
      • ‘I quickly scrabbled off the floor and ran to the bathroom; stripping off my clothes in a hurry.’
      clamber, climb, crawl, claw one's way, grope one's way
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3 Make great efforts to get somewhere or achieve something.
      ‘I had to scrabble around to find this apartment’
      • ‘They have each spent many millions and many months scrabbling around with headhunters trying to find top talent - and all the while investors lost billions as share prices crashed.’
      • ‘You wonder how frustrating it must be, still scrabbling to plug holes in low budgets after years of eager critical acclaim?’
      • ‘With the tabloids scrabbling for circulation and under pressure to land sensationalist stories, it is not a question of whether that day will arrive, but when.’
      • ‘Countless fans were left scrabbling around for alternative sources after a mysterious, erroneous e-mail was sent out to thousands of subscribers in the UK.’
      • ‘Still, with the movie ringing up millions in the domestic market, local film-makers are scrabbling to replicate its success.’
      • ‘The proof of his invincibility in the big race is that everyone is scrabbling around trying to find a British opponent with any kind of chance of winning.’
      • ‘In this context the survivors in the UK electricity market will continue to scrabble for scale.’
      • ‘British Airways, which spent the week scrabbling to avert strike action, was also back under pressure.’
      • ‘Already rival ethnic, religious, tribal and clan leaders are scrabbling for a place on the interim administration which will govern the country until free elections are held.’
      • ‘The very lucratively paid Canadians are embarrassingly, shamelessly scrabbling for excuses as to why they were well-beaten by a much better team of non-professionals.’
      • ‘As back-rows they spent the entire match scrabbling for possession, trying to stop the Wasps juggernaut.’
      • ‘The original moon landing race was a bipolar affair, with America and Russia urgently scrabbling to make space a ‘sphere of influence’.’
      • ‘In its series of pointed vignettes, the CD pieces together an affecting picture of a generation scrabbling to regain its idealism.’
      • ‘Because it makes us all richer, it enables us to concentrate more on non-material things instead of spending all our time scrabbling for a living.’
      • ‘Many firms have been scrabbling about to find extra capital - either from parent banks or from the bond market - to prop up solvency ratios.’
      • ‘I bit my trembling lip and twisted a stray lock of coppery hair around my finger as my mind frantically scrabbled for some way out of the problem at hand.’
      • ‘At the time of writing, they are still scrabbling around for no less than half of the necessary funding.’

noun

  • 1[in singular] An act of scratching or scrambling for something.

    ‘he heard the scrabble of claws behind him’
    • ‘All was silent except the panting of the Ellingham's and the occasional scrabble at the door.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She could hear the faint scrabble of feet as mice scurried through the walls.’
    • ‘There was a tug, a clatter as the leash handle hit the floor, and the rapid scrabble of claws on tile.’
    • ‘Light glittering from metal, a scrabble of feet launched it forward, a long blade raised and gleaming like copper.’
    • ‘She had heard the distinct scrabble of rats and was positive she would never be able to rid her clothing of the stench.’
    • ‘She latched onto it and made a scrabble for safety.’
    • ‘A scrabble sounded behind them and it seemed as though someone had put a blindfold over their eyes.’
    • ‘There was a scrabble on concrete and she felt hands on her face.’
    • ‘At one point there was a mad scrabble for the ball and the umpire blew for a bounce.’
    • ‘I made my way up very gingerly and after a slippery scrabble up the last bit, arrived back on the surface, with Alan not far behind.’
    1. 1.1 A struggle to get somewhere or achieve something.
      ‘a scrabble among the salesmen to avoid going to the bottom of the heap’
      • ‘It's the scrabble for survival at the bottom of the heap that produces it.’
      • ‘This scrabble to see who can be the most vicious can only lead to an increase in racism.’
      • ‘Keeping and filing receipts will avoid that year-end scrabble to remember where you've been and what.’
      • ‘The discovery of the virus in the whooper swan sparked a desperate scrabble in the other health boards to identify those most at risk.’
      • ‘Earlier this year Adam and Mehdin endured one of Britain's most stressful rituals: the scrabble of trying to get a place at a good secondary school.’
      • ‘Ill luck and ill health dogged him, and there was an increasingly desperate scrabble for funds to feed his family and a gargantuan habit of heroin and cocaine.’
      • ‘The company started to scrabble around for money, suing as many customers as it could find for infringement of copyright.’
      • ‘However for those doing their final exams, the scrabble for college places in August will still be as tight.’
      • ‘They have also given rise to a deeply unsavoury scrabble among individuals and groups who want to use this for their own agenda and ends.’
      • ‘There is a scrabble to pull together some funds to keep the arts lobby happy, he adds.’
      • ‘Politics without real meaningful debate on values is just a nasty scrabble for power influence and patronage.’
  • 2trademark A board game in which players use lettered tiles to create words in a crossword fashion.

    • ‘A few jokes were made about them playing Scrabble on the tour bus.’
    • ‘I, on the other hand, will be feeding my face and cleaning the kitchen before heading back up here to play Scrabble.’
    • ‘Everyone in our office is playing email Scrabble.’
    • ‘So, we were playing obscene Scrabble with double points for swear words and cocktail names.’
    • ‘Several more rounds of speed Scrabble followed with a growing band of enthusiasts.’

Origin

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.

Pronunciation:

scrabble

/ˈskrabəl/