In an app's description, I found the following sentence:

In this game you need to scramble to alter the height of waves to ensure your smooth passage.

I am not sure which of the following meanings of the word "scramble" fits here:


  1. To move or climb hurriedly, especially on the hands and knees.
  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.
  4. Football 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.

The app gives one the opportunity to enjoy the adventures of sea-surfing. Unfortunately, I can't share more information due to a confidentiality contract.

  • 2
    Try Def. 2. To struggle or contend frantically in order to get something.
    – Jim
    Oct 1, 2018 at 19:54
  • Here broadly, "… scramble…" seems to mean "… try…" That "… scramble…" and "… try…" aren't generally seen as synonymous says less about the meaning than the author's fluency in English. Jun 26, 2020 at 22:37

2 Answers 2


to scramble OED

to get through or into a place or position struggling use of the hands and feet

As in:

In this game you need to scramble (swim vigorously/struggling to get into optimal surfing position relative to the oncoming wave) to alter the height of waves to ensure your smooth passage.

  • You wouldn't be actually swimming since it's an app.
    – Laurel
    Oct 31, 2018 at 22:04

I'm not especially pleased with the dictionary definitions I've seen for "scramble" for this sense. It's clearly intransitive definition #2 in your quote, but I would reword the definition as such:

To struggle or contend frantically in order to get or do something

This is because it's pretty common to hear it used with an action.

In the context of the game you're talking about, it probably means that it's not one of those games where you have infinite time to solve the problems. Instead, there will be time constraints, which could be timers, a race for first with other players, or "natural" obstacles (e.g. if you don't dodge fast enough, you'll hit a rock and die). Or it's just marketing trying to say that you'll be rushing because you can't put the game down (where the game itself has no actual time constraints).

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