ransack

verb
ran·​sack | \ ˈran-ˌsak How to pronounce ransack (audio) , (ˌ)ran-ˈsak\
ransacked; ransacking; ransacks

Definition of ransack

transitive verb

1 : to look through thoroughly in often a rough way … he and 15 staff members watched agents ransack the office.— Christian Caryl et al. In desperation, I ransacked my refrigerator for something else to whip up.— Dana Bowen(figurative) Most novelists ransack their lives for that first novel; it might be called involuntary reporting.— Tom Wolfe
2 : to search through and steal from in a forceful and damaging way : plunder Thieves ransacked the house. Louis XVI was persuaded to risk a navy far from its own shores and to ransack the French arsenals for arms and ammunition …— C. P. Reynolds

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Other Words from ransack

ransacker noun

Did You Know?

Ransack carries the image of a house being torn out of order, as might happen when you are frantically searching for something. This is appropriate given the word's origin. Ransack derives via Middle English from Old Norse "rannsaka"; the "rann" in rannsaka means "house." The second half of "rannsaka" is related to an Old English word, secan, meaning "to seek." But our modern use of the word isn't restricted to houses. You can ransack a drawer, a suitcase, or even the contents of a book (for information). A now-obsolete frequentative form of "ransack," "ransackle," gave us our adjective "ramshackle."

Examples of ransack in a Sentence

Robbers ransacked the apartment looking for money. The room had been ransacked.

Recent Examples on the Web

Looters ransacked hundreds of businesses in the city of Maracaibo. Jorge Rueda, The Seattle Times, "Weary Venezuelans adapt to more nationwide power cuts," 26 Mar. 2019 Protesters fought with police, several dozen luxury stores and restaurants were vandalized or ransacked, and a bank was set on fire near the famous Champs-Élysées. Noemie Bisserbe, WSJ, "France Vows Crackdown After Protests Again Turn Violent," 17 Mar. 2019 Police rioted in Port Moresby as attendees jetted out, ransacking offices in a dispute over pay that spilled into looting in nearby suburbs. Rob Taylor, WSJ, "Dude, Where’s My Car? Pacific Nation Loses Fleet of Official Vehicles," 25 Jan. 2019 Last weekend, these militiamen crushed the protests in Jinotepe and Diriamba, two cities south of the capital, ransacking churches and leaving more than 30 dead in the area, according to human rights groups. Joshua Partlow, chicagotribune.com, "Inside the church where Nicaraguan paramilitaries laid siege on university students," 14 July 2018 Marvi Sirmed, a journalist and rights activist, returned from a holiday earlier this month to find her home ransacked. Fox News, "Pakistan's media faces threats, abductions ahead of vote," 26 June 2018 The driver's side window of the BMW had also been opened and the glove compartment ransacked. Sara Cardine, latimes.com, "Crime Report: High-end handbag and vehicle thievery continues," 16 May 2018 He is believed to be the man captured on surveillance video ransacking the pockets and belongings of some downtown Los Angeles victims. Christopher Weber, The Seattle Times, "Man with long immigration record is charged with killings," 26 Sep. 2018 According to Channel 2, the four men entered a Snellville townhome located on Dorian Drive, ransacked it and assaulted a man inside. Raisa Habersham, ajc, "Cops: Suspects pistol-whipped man in Gwinnett home invasion," 13 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ransack.' 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 ransack

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for ransack

Middle English ransaken, from Old Norse rannsaka, from rann house + -saka (akin to Old English sēcan to seek) — more at seek

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Learn More about ransack

Dictionary Entries near ransack

Rann of Kachchh

ranny

rans

ransack

ransackle

ransel

ransom

Statistics for ransack

Last Updated

13 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ransack

The first known use of ransack was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for ransack

ransack

verb

English Language Learners Definition of ransack

: to search (a place) for something in a way that causes disorder or damage

ransack

verb
ran·​sack | \ ˈran-ˌsak How to pronounce ransack (audio) \
ransacked; ransacking

Kids Definition of ransack

: to search through in a way that causes disorder or damage Thieves ransacked the room.

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More from Merriam-Webster on ransack

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ransack

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ransack

Spanish Central: Translation of ransack

Nglish: Translation of ransack for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ransack for Arabic Speakers

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