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

Deputies who went to the house found the front door open and rooms ransacked. La Cañada Valley Sun, "Crime Report: 2 Highland Drive homes ransacked the same day," 4 Sep. 2019 The cash register was ransacked and cash totaling $150 was stolen, according to police reports. Cody Boteler, baltimoresun.com, "Towson and Cockeysville crime: Two commercial burglaries in Phoenix area," 3 Sep. 2019 Helmuth Hauprich’s apartment had yet to be ransacked. Los Angeles Times, "Two hours of terror in Orange County, with no easy answers," 9 Aug. 2019 Resident reported that sometime during the day unknown persons had entered his home and had ransacked the property. Houston Chronicle, "Memorial Villages Police Department weekly report," 26 Aug. 2019 At some point during the couple’s 4,000-year-long slumber, grave robbers ransacked their burial chamber and plundered its gold and jewels. New York Times, "The F.B.I. and the Mystery of the Mummy’s Head," 2 Apr. 2018 Months later, squatters ransacked his house and emptied it completely, investigators said. Jason Pohl, azcentral, "From missing to legally dead: The search for Sheriff's Office posse member Sam Grider," 12 Jan. 2018 In the early morning hours of July 14, Smith pointed a gun and ordered a victim into his home and demanded cash before ransacking his home. Cody Boteler, baltimoresun.com, "Two charged in Baltimore County robbery, extortion case," 24 July 2019 The department said the bear, which was put down Friday morning, had continued to approach people on the trail and ransack property, including two tents, in an effort to find food. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, "New England news in brief," 13 July 2019

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

19 Sep 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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