ransack

verb
ran·​sack | \ ˈran-ˌsak, (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

Earlier this month, John Mayer's mansion was burglarized and thoroughly ransacked, with a group of thieves getting away with about $200,000 worth of music equipment and other personal property. Devon Elizabeth, Teen Vogue, "Bella Thorne Reportedly Victim of Attempted Robbery," 22 Aug. 2018 Riot police officers surveying the damage of a restaurant which has been ransacked by yellow-vest protesters on the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris, France, on Dec. 1, 2018. Stacy Meichtry, WSJ, "Antigovernment Rally Is Among the Most Violent to Hit Paris in Decades," 2 Dec. 2018 There are also rules: residents must present an ID card to pass through the barricades and looting is prohibited, although townspeople said pro-government gangs had ransacked some of the stores. Kyra Gurney, miamiherald, "Nicaragua's revolutionary town now a war zone defended by teenagers armed with rocks," 7 June 2018 The statement said that the house had not been ransacked, and that no valuables were found to be missing. Time, "10 Bodies Found Blindfolded and Hanging at New Delhi Home," 1 July 2018 He was arrested May 4 after he was accused of ransacking his house and damaging his roommate's stuff. Madeleine Marr, miamiherald, "He had just been released from jail. His freedom lasted exactly 6 hours and 9 minutes," 29 June 2018 Ryan said the inside of the residence on the 1700 block of West Diamond Street appeared ransacked, and investigators believe cash was taken. Chris Palmer, Philly.com, "Temple student called 911 after being shot, police say," 8 May 2018 Like burglars who pull the fire alarm and, in the ensuing chaos, ransack the cash register, the hackers entered through a hole of their own creation. Benjamin Wofford, Vox, "The midterms are already hacked. You just don’t know it yet.," 25 Oct. 2018 These bright young things are ransacking their moms’ closets and scouring eBay for the same Calvin Klein slip or Donna Karan padded shoulder blazer their mom wore to some event in ’95. Brooke Bobb, Vogue, "How One Danish It Girl and Her Best Friends Are Restyling Her Mom’s ’90s Couture Clothes," 1 Oct. 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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Dictionary Entries near ransack

Rann of Kachchh

ranny

rans

ransack

ransackle

ransel

ransom

Statistics for ransack

Last Updated

10 Jan 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 \
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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