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litter

[lit-er] /ˈlɪt ər/
noun
1.
objects strewn or scattered about; scattered rubbish.
2.
a condition of disorder or untidiness:
We were appalled at the litter of the room.
3.
a number of young brought forth by a multiparous animal at one birth:
a litter of six kittens.
4.
a framework of cloth stretched between two parallel bars, for the transportation of a sick or wounded person; stretcher.
5.
a vehicle carried by people or animals, consisting of a bed or couch, often covered and curtained, suspended between shafts.
6.
straw, hay, or the like, used as bedding for animals or as protection for plants.
7.
the layer of slightly decomposed organic material on the surface of the floor of the forest.
verb (used with object)
9.
to strew (a place) with scattered objects, rubbish, etc.:
to be fined for littering the sidewalk.
10.
to scatter (objects) in disorder:
They littered their toys from one end of the playroom to the other.
11.
to be strewn about (a place) in disorder (often followed by up):
Bits of paper littered the floor.
12.
to give birth to (young), as a multiparous animal.
13.
to supply (an animal) with litter for a bed.
14.
to use (straw, hay, etc.) for litter.
15.
to cover (a floor or other area) with straw, hay, etc., for litter.
verb (used without object)
16.
to give birth to a litter:
The cat had littered in the closet.
17.
to strew objects about:
If you litter, you may be fined.
Idioms
18.
pick of the litter,
  1. the best or choicest of the animals, especially puppies, in a litter.
  2. the best of any class, group, or available selection.
Origin
1250-1300
1250-1300; Middle English litere bed, litter < Anglo-French; Old French litiere < Medieval Latin lectāria, equivalent to Latin lect(us) bed + -āria feminine of -ārius -er2
Related forms
litterer, noun
antilitter, adjective
antilittering, adjective
de-litter, verb (used with object)
unlittered, adjective
Can be confused
letter, lighter, liter, litter.
Synonyms
2. clutter. 3. See brood. 9. mess (up). 10. disarrange, derange.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for litters

litter

/ˈlɪtə/
noun
1.
  1. small refuse or waste materials carelessly dropped, esp in public places
  2. (as modifier) litter bin
2.
a disordered or untidy condition or a collection of objects in this condition
3.
a group of offspring produced at one birth by a mammal such as a sow
4.
a layer of partly decomposed leaves, twigs, etc, on the ground in a wood or forest
5.
straw, hay, or similar material used as bedding, protection, etc, by animals or plants
6.
7.
a means of conveying people, esp sick or wounded people, consisting of a light bed or seat held between parallel sticks
verb
8.
to make (a place) untidy by strewing (refuse)
9.
to scatter (objects, etc) about or (of objects) to lie around or upon (anything) in an untidy fashion
10.
(of pigs, cats, etc) to give birth to (offspring)
11.
(transitive) to provide (an animal or plant) with straw or hay for bedding, protection, etc
Word Origin
C13 (in the sense: bed): via Anglo-French, ultimately from Latin lectus bed
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for litters

litter

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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litters in Medicine

litter lit·ter (lĭt'ər)
n.

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

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

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Slang definitions & phrases for litters

litter

Related Terms

pocket litter


The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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litters in the Bible

(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.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Encyclopedia Article for litters

litter

portable bed or couch, open or enclosed, that is mounted on two poles and carried at each end on the shoulders of porters or by animals. Litters, which may have been adapted from sledges that were pushed or dragged on the ground, appear in Egyptian paintings and were used by the Persians; they are mentioned in the Book of Isaiah. Litters were also common in the Orient, where they were called palanquins. In ancient Rome, litters were reserved for empresses and senators' wives, and plebeians were forbidden to travel in them. By the 17th century, litters were plentiful in Europe; protection and privacy were provided by canopies held up by poles and by curtains or leather shields. The introduction of spring-mounted coaches ended the need for litters except as transport for the sick and wounded.

Learn more about litter with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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