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

Definition of plunder

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to take the goods of by force (as in war) : pillage, sack invaders plundered the town
b : to take by force or wrongfully : steal, loot plundered artifacts from the tomb
2 : to make extensive use of as if by plundering : use or use up wrongfully plunder the land

intransitive verb

: to commit robbery or looting



Definition of plunder (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an act of plundering : pillaging
2 : something taken by force, theft, or fraud : loot
3 chiefly dialectal : personal or household effects

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from plunder


plunderer \ ˈplən-​dər-​ər How to pronounce plunderer (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for plunder

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb One source that the service could plunder from is ABC, which Disney owns. Frank Pallotta, CNN, "Why 'The Simpsons' matters to Disney+," 26 Nov. 2019 Moreover, he is hobbled by party bigwigs and generals who fiddle the foreign-exchange rates and continue to plunder the treasury. The Economist, "Even in death, Robert Mugabe worries his successor," 14 Sep. 2019 Acquiring Greenland for the purpose of plundering its natural resources and using its waterways which have been created by melting ice because of global warming may not be absurd but certainly is unethical. Letters To The Editor, The Mercury News, "Letter: Trump buying Greenland is certainly unethical," 29 Aug. 2019 The likes of Eric Clapton and the Rolling Stones built their repertoires by plundering traditional Delta Blues. Washington Post, "In a globalized world, music fragments take unexpected roads," 30 July 2019 These liberals apparently don’t know that, with their consent, urban America has been freely plundering rural America of agricultural products since about the middle of the last century—and of coal for half a century longer. Amanda Petrusich, The New Yorker, "Going Home with Wendell Berry," 29 May 2019 And when Dora and her squad head into the jungle, there are discussions of colonialism: not only in the historical sense of Europeans plundering the natural resources of South America, but their artifacts, too. Kristen Page-kirby, Twin Cities, "There’s no treasure to be found in the boring ‘Dora and the Lost City of Gold’," 9 Aug. 2019 The notorious pirate Blackbeard is said to have honeymooned on Smuttynose Island and to have hidden plundered British silver bars somewhere on the shoals. Pamela Wright,, "A shining Star in the Atlantic," 30 July 2019 Both countries used proxy militias to plunder Congo’s mineral resources. The Economist, "Killings in Congo’s north-east spark fears of a return to war," 13 July 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Since taking power in 2018, Bolsonaro has rapidly pulled off the gloves protecting the Amazon and holds no pretext of preserving it, exacerbating the plunder that has been in progress for generations. Will Meyer, Longreads, "Fire Sale: Finance and Fascism in the Amazon Rainforest," 4 Oct. 2019 In the advertising industry especially, these apps can create serious financial plunders. Courtney Linder, Popular Mechanics, "How to Kill the Zombie Apps Destroying Your Phone," 18 Sep. 2019 Rising Chinese agricultural investments in Africa have sparked fierce international controversy, excoriated by critics as colonial plunder and hailed in Beijing as productive and beneficial to local farmers. Peter Ford, The Christian Science Monitor, "Big promises, few results: Chinese farms falter in Uganda," 17 Sep. 2019 Alabama’s three-term state treasurer knew his life of promise and plunder was at an end. al, "Alabama treasurer ‘Honest Ike’ stole $200,000 and fled the state in 1883," 7 Aug. 2019 But the full reality of Nazi plunder was far more mundane, which was perhaps the essence of its cruelty. James Mcauley, Town & Country, "The Haunting of Paris: Georges Mandel and the Long Legacy of Nazi Violence," 6 Aug. 2019 Prisoners of war were paraded before Rome, as well as the plunder gained through the victory. Andrea Frediani, National Geographic, "Julius Caesar came. He saw. He conquered. Here's how Rome celebrated.," 10 July 2019 The migrants can kill, plunder, and rape with impunity because their rights as migrants must be protected. David Remnick, The New Yorker, "Little Rocket Man," 4 July 2019 And no liberal democratic peer nation has anything resembling the system of plunder described in the Justice Department’s Ferguson report. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "Biden’s Big, Obvious Ideas for Criminal-Justice Reform," 24 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'plunder.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of plunder


1632, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a


1643, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for plunder


German plündern

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about plunder

Time Traveler for plunder

Time Traveler

The first known use of plunder was in 1632

See more words from the same year

Statistics for plunder

Last Updated

3 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Plunder.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 13 December 2019.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for plunder


How to pronounce plunder (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of plunder

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to steal things from (a place, such as a city or town) especially by force



English Language Learners Definition of plunder (Entry 2 of 2)

: the act of stealing things from a place especially by force : the act of plundering something
: things that are stolen or taken by force especially during a war


plun·​der | \ ˈplən-dər How to pronounce plunder (audio) \
plundered; plundering

Kids Definition of plunder

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to rob or steal especially openly and by force (as during war)



Kids Definition of plunder (Entry 2 of 2)

: something stolen by force : loot

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on plunder

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for plunder

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with plunder

Spanish Central: Translation of plunder

Nglish: Translation of plunder for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of plunder for Arabic Speakers

Comments on plunder

What made you want to look up plunder? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


easily led, controlled, or managed

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble tiles that read scrabble quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!