v. scram·bled, scram·bling, scram·bles
a. To move or climb hurriedly, especially on the hands and knees.
b. To climb, as on a mountainside, by using both hands and feet for support but typically without using a rope or other specialized gear.
2. To struggle or contend frantically in order to get something: scrambled for the best seats.
3. To take off with all possible haste, as to intercept enemy aircraft.
a. To run around with the ball behind the line of scrimmage in order to avoid being tackled while searching for an open receiver.
b. To run forward with the ball when unable to complete an intended pass play. Used of a quarterback.
5. Linguistics To move to another position in a syntactic structure, as for emphasis. Used of phrases or other syntactic constituents.
1. To mix or throw together haphazardly.
2. To gather together in a hurried or disorderly fashion.
3. To cook (beaten eggs) until firm but with a soft consistency.
4. Electronics To distort or garble (a signal) so as to render it unintelligible without a special receiver.
5. To cause (aircraft) to take off as fast as possible, as to intercept enemy aircraft.
1. The act or an instance of scrambling.
2. An arduous hike or climb over rough terrain, especially one that requires the use of the hands for support but does not require specialized mountaineering gear.
3. A struggle for something: a scramble for new territory.
4. Sports See motocross.
5. A swift takeoff of military aircraft in response to an alert or attack.
[Perhaps blend of obsolete scamble, to struggle for, and dialectal cramble, to crawl.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.