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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
The Sun’s new owner, Sinclair Broadcast Group’s David Smith, made his fortune plundering local broadcast news, draining their local community value and turning them into outlets centered on national politics, rather than local issues, with a right-wing slant that mirrored his own. Matthew Jordan, The Conversation, 1 Feb. 2024 The documentary follows the journey of 26 royal treasures plundered by French colonial troops in the Kingdom of Dahomey, which have been exhibited at the Musée du Quai de Branly in Paris and are being returned to Cotonou in Benin. Elsa Keslassy, Variety, 22 Jan. 2024 The story is simple: In 168 B.C., a Syrian/Greek king named Antiochus captured Jerusalem and plundered the temple. Kathleen Purvis, Charlotte Observer, 31 Jan. 2024 And with success, the rest of those teams will undoubtedly plunder the Ravens’ coaching and front office staffs. Brian Wacker, Baltimore Sun, 17 Jan. 2024 The attackers were largely free to plunder, murder and kidnap. Patrick Kingsley, New York Times, 22 Dec. 2023 Enlarge / Female pirates Anne Bonny and Mary Read were a deadly duo who plundered their way to infamy. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 30 Dec. 2023 Decades before the gold rush drew fortune seekers out West, Red Rock was inhabited by Russian fur traders who plundered the sea otter population in the early 1800s. Heather Knight, New York Times, 24 Dec. 2023 And then, in 2010, the college learned of a multi-million-dollar accounting error in how federal financial aid was calculated for students, and plundered its relatively modest endowment without replenishing the funds. Emily Cochrane, New York Times, 27 Dec. 2023
In the early days of D&D, many scenarios were fairly linear — enter dungeon, defeat monsters and plunder, assuming your characters survive. Daniel E. Slotnik, New York Times, 1 Feb. 2024 Cortés and his men are rough mercenaries who rape, plunder and murder without compunction. Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Los Angeles Times, 2 Jan. 2024 In centuries past, the dark undercurrent to the Netherlands’ prosperity was the plunder of its colonial possessions; a legacy the state has just started to reckon with, as late last year Rutte’s government apologized for the country’s role in the slave trade. April Roach, Fortune Europe, 21 Nov. 2023 Beneath this straight-to-streaming-series layer of camera-ready scammers, there is a more substantial plunder going on in executive suites all across the country. Jason Linkins, The New Republic, 6 Oct. 2023 The value of bitcoin can also rise, giving fraudsters a way to increase their plunder. Queenie Wong, Los Angeles Times, 22 Oct. 2023 In spite of all the murder and plunder and betrayal, the Osage still endure. David Klion, The New Republic, 21 Oct. 2023 Famed archaeologist Gustav Heinrich Ralph von Koenigswald hid the collection from the invaders for the next three years, at one point swapping the skulls for plaster casts for fear of plunder. Gabe Allen, Discover Magazine, 5 Oct. 2023 Hanson is one of the authors of a report due to be released this month by the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative examining the plunder of cultural heritage in Ukraine since the Russian invasion. Artem Grudinin, NBC News, 6 Apr. 2023 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 26 Feb. 2024.

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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