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v. scrab·bled, scrab·bling, scrab·bles
1. To scrape or grope about frenetically with the hands or paws: "They often scrabbled through kitchen drawers looking for coins to buy bread" (Steve Friedman).
2. To move or climb with scrambling, disorderly haste: scrabbled down the rocks to the water.
3. To struggle or work hard in a disorderly or desperate fashion: "For quite some time I scrabbled around, playing the piano at jazz bars, doing whatever ... journalism I could get" (Frank Conroy).
4. To write hastily or make disordered markings; scribble.
1. To make or obtain by frenetic or desperate action: scrabble a living from soil depleted of nutrients.
a. To scrape or scratch (a surface): "Tubal got him a pointed rod / And scrabbled the earth for corn" (Rudyard Kipling).
b. To move or arrange hastily with the hands: "The next flat tombstone was covered with leaves. I scrabbled the dust away" (Ray Bradbury).
3. To scribble or write down hastily: scrabbled the answer on a sheet of paper.
1. The act or an instance of scrabbling.
2. A scribble; a doodle.

[Dutch schrabbelen, from Middle Dutch, frequentative of schrabben, to scrape; see sker- in Indo-European roots.]

scrab′bler n.
scrab′bly adj.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


1. scrabbling or groping about
2. (Environmental Science) covered with stunted trees and scrub
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(ˈskræb li)

adj. -bli•er, -bli•est.
scratchy; raspy.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Adj.1.scrabbly - sparsely covered with stunted trees or vegetation and underbrush; "open scrubby woods"
wooded - covered with growing trees and bushes etc; "wooded land"; "a heavily wooded tract"
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.
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References in periodicals archive ?
It had two rock-hard yards that were used for hockey and netball and we had one scrabbly bit of grass that in the summer they tried to turn into a long jump and sprint track.
the people kept calling home is an ignoble place, scraggly and scrabbly,
Perhaps Jefferson thought that New England farmers, with their small, scrabbly landholdings, were similar in personality to "the Man of the old world, crouded [sic] within limits either small or overcharged." (29) Consequently, Jefferson perceived the puritanical New Englanders as natural foils to the freewheeling Virginians, and he regarded what was natural as good.