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

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 But at least in olden days such plundering was relatively rare. Joe Queenan, WSJ, "Must Everything Old Be Exhumed Again?," 6 Dec. 2018 Countries like Benin and Ethiopia, among others, have long requested that artifacts that were plundered or looted by European armies be returned. Alexia Underwood, Vox, "European museums may “loan” stolen artifacts back to countries in Africa," 17 Aug. 2018 England was particularly envious of the lucrative system developed by Spain for returning gold and silver to the mother country after the Spanish plundered the Aztec and Incan empires in 1521 and 1532. Rinker Buck, WSJ, "‘Black Flags, Blue Waters’ Review: To Live and Die a Pirate King," 26 Sep. 2018 In the 19th century, scientists themselves routinely plundered burial grounds, with no thought about getting consent from families or communities for their work. Carl Zimmer, New York Times, "Chile and Its Scientists Protest Research on Tiny Mummy," 28 Mar. 2018 Some of those graves were plundered centuries ago, largely by enemy tribes seeking to stake a claim on the territory by desecrating the Scythians’ burial sites. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "Satellites watch over the graves of ancient steppe nomads," 26 Dec. 2018 The department has continued to encounter a series of scandals, from police officers planting evidence to a gun task force that conducted false searches and actively plundered city residents. P.r. Lockhart, Vox, "The latest viral video of Baltimore police shows that the department’s reform efforts have a long way to go.," 13 Aug. 2018 Instead, Iran’s leaders plunder the nation’s resources to enrich themselves and to spread mayhem across the Middle East and far beyond. Alex Ward, Vox, "The US is evacuating diplomats from an Iraqi consulate citing credible threats from Iran," 28 Sep. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 The powerful family has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, of human rights abuses and wanton plunder of national assets, during Marcos’ reign, which finally ended in 1989. Washington Post, "Sara Netanyahu preceded by avarice of other first wives," 21 June 2018 That is unusual: Centuries of plunder by treasure hunters and professional tomb raiders have spoiled many ancient Egyptian burial sites. Declan Walsh, New York Times, "Sarcophagus Found. Contents Unknown. (‘No Guessing, Please.’)," 13 July 2018 Whether for leisure, business, exploration, colonization, exploitation or plunder, humans have traveled the world for centuries and recorded their impressions in books and artworks. Susan Dunne,, "Travel-Themed Exhibit 'Wish You Were Here' In New Haven," 23 June 2018 The powerful family has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, of human rights abuses and wanton plunder of national assets, during Marcos' reign, which finally ended in 1989. Fox News, "Sara Netanyahu preceded by avarice of other first wives," 22 June 2018 The passive nature of reading allows a space for distance from the realities of slavery, violence, rape, plunder, mass incarceration and the daily toll of tightrope walking. Angela Helm, The Root, "Kamilah Forbes’ Beautiful Struggle: Bringing Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me to the Stage," 10 Apr. 2018 In Maeve's understanding, the Ghost Nation showed up in the name of violence, to attack, pillage and plunder., "Westworld Season 2, Episode 8: Forget What You Think You Know," 11 June 2018

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

2 Jul 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

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