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

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Other Words from plunder


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

Synonyms for plunder

Synonyms: Verb

despoil, loot, maraud, pillage, ransack, sack

Synonyms: Noun

booty, loot, pillage, spoil, swag

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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


The village was plundered by the invading army. Thieves had long ago plundered the tomb. The soldiers continued plundering for days.


the plunder of the village All evidence suggested that the plunder of the tomb had happened long ago.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 Blending into the background The backdrop — a wall conveying the ship’s plundering past — is engulfed in bones, pearls and fragments of gold, which were blended to create a subtly unsettling melange. Thomas Floyd, Washington Post, "Take an inside look at how Signature Theatre’s ‘Blackbeard’ got its ship together," 26 June 2019 And resources the group plundered from Sirte helped it spring back from defeat. Benoit Faucon, WSJ, "Islamic State’s Deadly Return in Libya Imperils Oil Output," 18 Sep. 2018 To those charged with rooting out fraudsters, the current regulations seem like an invitation to plunder. Marshall Allen, ProPublica, "Health Insurers Make It Easy for Scammers to Steal Millions. Who Pays? You.," 19 July 2019 So for those seeking glory for themselves and their nations, the last places left to behold offered little to plunder and colonize, and the only reason to go to them was to be the first. David James, Anchorage Daily News, "In 'To the Edges of the Earth,’ a look at the people who pushed human exploration to its limits," 22 June 2019 There are perhaps few historical figures who loom as large as Henry VIII — the voracious, tyrannical King whose need for an heir led him to divorce, murder, and plunder his way through the lives of his six wives. Maureen Lee Lenker,, "The Spanish Princess creators on their ambiguous ending and how it was inspired by The Godfather," 24 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 Historically, the Huns appear to have been less a tribe than a hodgepodge of soldiers of fortune, escaped slaves, and refugees rallying together around the promise of plunder. Jacob Mikanowski, Harper's magazine, "The Call of the Drums," 21 July 2019 Victims of their plunder are very much alive today. New York Times, "At Historic Hearing, House Panel Explores Reparations," 19 June 2019 The improbability of this statement speaks to the massive inequalities that exist between nations in relation to Western pillaging and plunder. Celine Semaan, Teen Vogue, "Why I Started a Sustainable Fashion Conference Series," 26 Apr. 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.

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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

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Statistics for plunder

Last Updated

27 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for plunder

The first known use of plunder was in 1632

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More Definitions for plunder



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

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More from Merriam-Webster on plunder

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with plunder

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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).


to make a temporary encampment

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