Definition of ransack
1a : to search thoroughlyb : to examine closely and carefully
2 : to search through to commit robbery : plunder
ransack was our Word of the Day on 06/22/2013. Hear the podcast!
Examples of ransack in a sentence
Robbers ransacked the apartment looking for money.
The room had been ransacked.
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."
Origin and Etymology of ransack
Middle English ransaken, from Old Norse rannsaka, from rann house + -saka (akin to Old English sēcan to seek) — more at seek
First Known Use: 13th century
RANSACK Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of ransack for English Language Learners
: to search (a place) for something in a way that causes disorder or damage
RANSACK Defined for Kids
Definition of ransack for Students
: to search through in a way that causes disorder or damage Thieves ransacked the room.
Seen and Heard
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