Definition of scram in US English:



  • 1no object, usually in imperative Leave or go away from a place quickly.

    ‘get out of here, you miserable wretches—scram!’
    • ‘You guys have ten seconds to scram before I come after you with a sledge hammer!’
    • ‘He plans the crime, he breaks in, bypasses security and scrams with the paintings… only to have his van run out of petrol.’
    • ‘He climbed up the steps three at a time, gave a hasty good-bye to my dear relatives, told me he'd meet me at the hotel, and quickly scrammed.’
    • ‘He was starting to tell me when and where to meet him when you came skipping past and I told you to scram, remember that?’
    • ‘So we just hang out here and scram when a teacher comes by.’
    • ‘I nodded her away, praying that she'd take the hint and scram.’
    • ‘I had to spend seven rupees on you - give my money back and get the hell out of my house - scram!’
    • ‘If you don't want me to call the police you'd better scram.’
    • ‘Connie, go tell those kids to scram, will you?’
    • ‘Well, I advise you two to scram before you get hurt.’
    • ‘He just saved this girl and now she's telling him to scram?’
    • ‘The man rolled his eyes, ‘All right, take it and scram, and don't tell anyone I let you off.’’
    • ‘His enlightened philosophy was either improve business or scram.’
    • ‘He scrammed, and I watched him leave with relief.’
    • ‘I ordered him to scram, under the pretense of changing into warmer clothes.’
    • ‘He hollered, scram if our know what's good for you, and I ran fast.’
    • ‘They wanted five months' rent up front and promised just 60 days' notice in the event they wanted us to scram.’
    • ‘They would have to scram before the government launched a campaign against them.’
    • ‘‘Now scram,’ slurred the voice with a mobster accent.’
    • ‘Aurora would very much like to tell him to scram but she really did need his help.’
    go away, depart, leave, take yourself off, take off, get out, get out of my sight
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  • 2with object Shut down (a nuclear reactor) in an emergency.

    ‘when the power is cut off, the unit will automatically scram the reactor’
  • 3no object (of a nuclear reactor) shut down in an emergency.

    ‘the reactor scrammed unexpectedly after an electrical malfunction’


  • An emergency shutdown of a nuclear reactor.

    ‘the power plant was cited for its high rate of scrams over the past year’
    • ‘Both the number of safety-system activations and scrams are about one tenth of what they were in 1985.’


Early 20th century: probably from the verb scramble.