Litter



objects strewn or scattered about; scattered rubbish.
a condition of disorder or untidiness:
We were appalled at the litter of the room.
a number of young brought forth by a multiparous animal at one birth:
a litter of six kittens.
a framework of cloth stretched between two parallel bars, for the transportation of a sick or wounded person; stretcher.
a vehicle carried by people or animals, consisting of a bed or couch, often covered and curtained, suspended between shafts.
straw, hay, or the like, used as bedding for animals or as protection for plants.
the layer of slightly decomposed organic material on the surface of the floor of the forest.
.
to strew (a place) with scattered objects, rubbish, etc.:
to be fined for littering the sidewalk.
to scatter (objects) in disorder:
They littered their toys from one end of the playroom to the other.
to be strewn about (a place) in disorder (often followed by up):
Bits of paper littered the floor.
to give birth to (young), as a multiparous animal.
to supply (an animal) with litter for a bed.
to use (straw, hay, etc.) for litter.
to cover (a floor or other area) with straw, hay, etc., for litter.
to give birth to a litter:
The cat had littered in the closet.
to strew objects about:
If you litter, you may be fined.
pick of the litter,

the best or choicest of the animals, especially puppies, in a litter.
the best of any class, group, or available selection.

Contemporary Examples

Dingoes can be kept as pets if they are taken from a litter no older than six weeks of age and then aggressively trained.
Pets or Predators? 10 Things About Australia’s Famous Dog, the Dingo Meredith Kaufman June 12, 2012

In one photo, two cubs rested on one of their litter mates who had just died with its eyes still open.
The $10 Billion Pet Cheetah and Chimp Industry Sharon Adarlo July 19, 2014

She has a cage where food, water, and a litter box are provided for her, but she enters only at her own discretion.
Life With 6 Kids, 20 Finches, and a Franken-tortoise Laura Bennett October 8, 2008

Napoleon solved the matter by ordering his officers to stuff her into a litter and carry her aboard by force.
Pauline Bonaparte: Dead Cool Simon Doonan November 29, 2009

We coo over how cute our cat is and minimize the drudgery of cleaning the litter box.
Why Didn’t Camille Dump Bill Cosby? Amanda Marcotte December 16, 2014

Historical Examples

Dion had found it difficult not to be forced from the litter while answering.
Cleopatra, Complete Georg Ebers

A kind of litter was constructed, and your uncle placed upon it.
The Grateful Indian W.H.G. Kingston

Along the furrow and through the litter the young fox nosed his way, ready to pounce upon the first mouse which darted out.
Wild Folk Samuel Scoville

I had him lifted on a litter and borne to the shade in the rear.
America First Various

There was a litter, carved and gilt, with its four mattrasses of blue embroidered satin.
A Decade of Italian Women, vol. I (of 2) T. Adolphus Trollope

noun

small refuse or waste materials carelessly dropped, esp in public places
(as modifier): litter bin

a disordered or untidy condition or a collection of objects in this condition
a group of offspring produced at one birth by a mammal such as a sow
a layer of partly decomposed leaves, twigs, etc, on the ground in a wood or forest
straw, hay, or similar material used as bedding, protection, etc, by animals or plants
See cat litter
a means of conveying people, esp sick or wounded people, consisting of a light bed or seat held between parallel sticks
verb
to make (a place) untidy by strewing (refuse)
to scatter (objects, etc) about or (of objects) to lie around or upon (anything) in an untidy fashion
(of pigs, cats, etc) to give birth to (offspring)
(transitive) to provide (an animal or plant) with straw or hay for bedding, protection, etc
n.

c.1300, “a bed,” also “bed-like vehicle carried on men’s shoulders” (early 14c.), from Anglo-French litere “portable bed,” Old French litiere “litter, stretcher, bier; straw, bedding,” from Medieval Latin lectaria “litter” (altered in French by influence of lit “bed”), from Latin lectus “bed, couch,” from PIE *legh-to-, from root *legh- “to lie” (see lie (v.2)).

Meaning extended early 15c. to “straw used for bedding” (early 14c. in Anglo-French) and late 15c. to “offspring of an animal at one birth” (in one bed); sense of “scattered oddments, disorderly debris” is first attested 1730, probably from Middle English verb literen “provide with bedding” (late 14c.), with notion of strewing straw. Litter by 19c. had come to mean both the straw bedding and the animal waste in it after use.
v.

late 14c., “provide with bedding,” from litter (n.). Meaning “to strew with objects” is from 1713. Transitive sense of “to scatter in a disorderly way” is from 1731. Related: Littered; littering.

litter lit·ter (lĭt’ər)
n.

A flat supporting framework, such as a piece of canvas stretched between parallel shafts, for carrying a disabled or dead person; a stretcher.

The offspring produced at one birth by a multiparous mammal. Also called brood.

Related Terms

pocket litter

(Heb. tsab, as being lightly and gently borne), a sedan or palanquin for the conveyance of persons of rank (Isa. 66:20). In Num. 7:3, the words “covered wagons” are more literally “carts of the litter kind.” There they denote large and commodious vehicles drawn by oxen, and fitted for transporting the furniture of the temple.

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