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plun·​der ˈplən-dər How to pronounce plunder (audio)
plundered; plundering ˈplən-d(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce plunder (audio)

transitive verb

: to take the goods of by force (as in war) : pillage, sack
invaders plundered the town
: to take by force or wrongfully : steal, loot
plundered artifacts from the tomb
: to make extensive use of as if by plundering : use or use up wrongfully
plunder the land

intransitive verb

: to commit robbery or looting
plunderer noun


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: an act of plundering : pillaging
: something taken by force, theft, or fraud : loot
chiefly dialectal : personal or household effects
Choose the Right Synonym for plunder

spoil, plunder, booty, prize, loot mean something taken from another by force or craft.

spoil, more commonly spoils, applies to what belongs by right or custom to the victor in war or political contest.

the spoils of political victory

plunder applies to what is taken not only in war but in robbery, banditry, grafting, or swindling.

a bootlegger's plunder

booty implies plunder to be shared among confederates.

thieves dividing up their booty

prize applies to spoils captured on the high seas or territorial waters of the enemy.

the wartime right of seizing prizes at sea

loot applies especially to what is taken from victims of a catastrophe.

picked through the ruins for loot

Examples of plunder in a Sentence

Verb The village was plundered by the invading army. Thieves had long ago plundered the tomb. The soldiers continued plundering for days. Noun the plunder of the village All evidence suggested that the plunder of the tomb had happened long ago.
Recent Examples on the Web
By day, the birds fan out in search of food, sometimes plundering nearby cornfields that supply cattle feed to Willcox-area dairies. Brandon Loomis, The Arizona Republic, 30 Aug. 2023 Both parties ravaged the Tarrytown residents, scorching their farms and plundering their fields. Christopher Kuo, New York Times, 21 July 2023 Industries continued to plunder Indiana’s waterways of mussels until 1991 when the state suspended all forms of harvesting. The Indianapolis Star, 5 Sep. 2023 Seething with anger, thousands take to the streets in a two-day siege, smashing storefront windows, plundering merchandise and setting buildings ablaze. Kori Rumore, Chicago Tribune, 31 Aug. 2023 But this one is all pleasure — and too brilliant to plunder. Anchorage Daily News, 24 June 2023 The Ducks under Mario Cristobal came to Southern California to plunder on the recruiting trail during the final years of Clay Helton at USC and succeeded again and again. J. Brady McCollough, Los Angeles Times, 3 Aug. 2023 The war, Prigozhin claimed, was designed by Russian officials and oligarchs who had plundered two separatist regions in Donbas, eastern Ukraine, for years, but grew greedy and wanted to plunder all of Ukraine. Claire Parker, Washington Post, 24 June 2023 The Wagner Group began as a small clandestine force but has grown in recent years into a global war cartel run by Yevgeny Prigozhin, plundering gold and diamonds while advancing the Kremlin’s strategic interests and becoming the face of the Russian assault in Ukraine. Benoit Faucon, WSJ, 9 July 2023
Courtesy Kherson Regional Art Museum A growing body of evidence suggests Russian forces are systematically stealing art and cultural artifacts from Ukraine on a scale not seen in Europe since the Nazi plunder of World War II, according to researchers and experts documenting the damage. Artem Grudinin, NBC News, 6 Apr. 2023 In the film’s 1944-set prologue, Indy (Harrison Ford) captures a train loaded with Nazi plunder, including the titular Dial of Destiny. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian Magazine, 28 June 2023 These, too, were running out, owing to slaughter and plunder. Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker, 26 June 2023 Questions are also likely to arise about when U.N. partners detected the theft and what kind of third-party monitoring was in place to prevent such plunder. Katharine Houreld, Washington Post, 8 June 2023 Worn as a brooch by Queen Victoria, the Kohinoor, one of the largest diamonds in the world, was one of many plunders of British imperialism. Leila Sackur, NBC News, 6 May 2023 Marcos Jr is the son and namesake of former authoritarian leader Ferdinand Marcos Sr, whose21-year rule was marked by human rights abuses and plunder of the state coffers. Helen Regan and Yasmin Coles, CNN, 9 May 2022 Not surprisingly, economic growth slows to a halt in neo-feudal conditions like these, and politics becomes a matter of doling out a stagnant reserve of diminishing resources — resources supplemented only by colonial violence and the zero-sum plunder of the weak. Cameron Hilditch, National Review, 12 Aug. 2021 The most likely scenario would involve waves of immigrating anatomically modern humans taking over land and causing death by plunder and disease, as Europeans discovering the New World did. Scientific American, 1 June 2015 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'plunder.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



German plündern

First Known Use


1632, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a


1643, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of plunder was in 1632

Dictionary Entries Near plunder

Cite this Entry

“Plunder.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 verb
plun·​der ˈplən-dər How to pronounce plunder (audio)
plundered; plundering -d(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce plunder (audio)
: to rob especially openly and by force (as in a raid)
plunderer noun


2 of 2 noun
: an act of plundering
: something taken by force or theft : loot

More from Merriam-Webster on plunder

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