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

Other Words from plunder


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

Synonyms for plunder

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

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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

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: Verb Whose first and most enduring response to a new neighborhood is desecration, plunder. Han Ong, The New Yorker, 18 July 2022 That model spit out scenarios in which humanity either got more sustainable and equitable, and thus flourished, or continued letting capitalists plunder the planet and our civilization to death. Wired, 7 July 2022 Now, Mike settles for watching the squirrels plunder his apple trees. Paul Daugherty, The Enquirer, 27 June 2022 Paranoid and provincial — and outrageously ironic considering the United States is built upon centuries of displacement and plunder — the theory proposes that white people are endangered by interlopers intent on ousting them. New York Times, 15 June 2022 Gaming for adults, players will create their characters together at the first session before joining the crew of Pirates of Palm Beach to plunder and pillage the lands of fantasy. Cindy Kent,, 12 Apr. 2022 In an act considered audacious even at the time, Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin, ordered his agents to plunder sculptures from the Parthenon in Greece and bring them back to England in the early 1800s. Eleanor Cummins, The New Republic, 28 Apr. 2022 Roger Ng, a former Goldman Sachs banker, was convicted of helping to plunder billions of dollars from Malaysia’s 1MDB sovereign-wealth fund in one of the world’s largest financial scandals. WSJ, 9 Apr. 2022 Interviews with dozens of people on the front lines, including five state auditors, shed new light on the poor planning and missed red flags that allowed scammers to plunder billions of dollars intended for people who lost jobs during the pandemic. NBC News, 6 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Two days later, news broke of the SEC's plunder of the Big 12’s prized pieces, Oklahoma and Texas. Blake Toppmeyer, USA TODAY, 7 July 2022 Was Henry VIII’s breakup of the rich network of English monasteries an act of plunder, or reform? Wsj Books Staff, WSJ, 29 Apr. 2022 Though there is little sentimentality here about the death of any particular creature—everything, whether plankton or fish or mollusk, is always eating or being eaten—there is a sense of horror at human plunder. Anelise Chen, The Atlantic, 17 May 2022 The first reports of grain plunder emerged in mid-March. New York Times, 5 June 2022 Marcos Jr is the son and namesake of former authoritarian leader Ferdinand Marcos Sr, whose 21-year rule was marked by human rights abuses and plunder of the state coffers. Helen Regan, CNN, 9 May 2022 In the 1800s, one of Egypt’s rulers pried stones off the pyramids to erect new mosques (though, as far as pharaonic plunder goes, European visitors were greedier). New York Times, 24 Apr. 2022 Power structures were in flux, with petty lords calling themselves kings; sailing far and wide in search of plunder, trade routes or fertile agricultural land; and often losing power to internal feuds. Matthew Gabriele, Smithsonian Magazine, 22 Apr. 2022 In 1978, West Germany succeeded in diverting UNESCO’s new committee from colonial plunder to contemporary smuggling—a serious issue, especially during Nigeria’s 1967–70 civil war, but also a convenient distraction from earlier crimes. Julian Lucas, The New Yorker, 14 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for plunder

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The first known use of plunder was in 1632

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Last Updated

7 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Plunder.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for plunder


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

More from Merriam-Webster on plunder

Nglish: Translation of plunder for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of plunder for Arabic Speakers


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