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

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 DeAngelo, investigators say, was behind a string of crimes that ranged from ransacking homes to rapes and the killings of at least 12 people. Christal Hayes, USA TODAY, "Zodiac Killer: Can genealogy help crack the 50-year-old case?," 3 May 2018 Someone smashed the glass window of a front door, unlocked it and ransacked the home, stealing items including a Seiko watch. Staff Report, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Wellington Area Crime Log: March 22 - April 12," 27 Apr. 2018 Vandals who ransacked a state office in Sacramento in February stole 12 government computers and briefly had access to the personal health records of 582,000 people, the state Department of Developmental Services disclosed on Friday. Adam Ashton, sacbee, "California disability clients, state employees hit by data breach | The Sacramento Bee," 6 Apr. 2018 But Sunday was no holiday for the family of the 78-year-old grandmother, whose body was found Friday afternoon inside her ransacked apartment in the 5900 block of West Boulevard in Hyde Park. Maya Lau, latimes.com, "Family looks for answers in killing of Hyde Park woman, 78," 1 Apr. 2018 Graves, 41, vanished on Dec. 4, 2017, and investigators searching for her found her home ransacked. Chris Harris, PEOPLE.com, "Man Allegedly Raped and Strangled Colorado Massage Therapist Who Vanished in December," 24 Jan. 2018 Officials say he had been convicted of ransacking his own home and damaging his roommate's belongings. Fox News, "Florida man sent back to jail after not paying for taxi ride home from jail," 28 June 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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Rann of Kachchh







Statistics for ransack

Last Updated

18 Apr 2019

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Time Traveler for ransack

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

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More Definitions for ransack



English Language Learners Definition of ransack

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


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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marked by a state of overwhelming emotion

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