While throwing together some prompts for a writing challenge on Writing.CD last night, I wrote this line:
[My] hands scrambled for a hold on the rough rock.
This morning, while looking back at it, I thought "Huh. Is it actually "scrambled", or should that be "scrabbled"? I seem to recall seeing "scrabbled"."
So, turning to Google, I did a quick search for the line "scrabbled for a hold".
And then, to compare, a search for "scrambled for a hold".
...so it looks like both are in use, but "scrambled" is slightly more popular?
Except that Google Ngrams shows a different story.
The graph shows that even though "scrambled for a hold" makes an appearance nearly thirty years before "scrabbled for a hold" shows up, by the 1950s "scrabbled" has outstripped "scrambled" and is more in-use.
But... which one is actually correct? Does it matter which one popped up first, or that the other one became more popular? Which one is actually more accurate?