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

Moses said the windows were shattered and the vehicles had been ransacked. Phil Davis, baltimoresun.com, "Police: 30+ vehicles broken into in Northwest Baltimore," 15 Sep. 2019 One of the bedrooms also appeared to have been ransacked; officers found dresser drawers open and clothes lying all over. Evan Frank, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "A Hartland man could face up to 14 years in prison for a 2016 burglary in the town of Merton, complaint says," 9 Sep. 2019 Korean police and press swarmed the apartment, which had been ransacked. Peter Van Sant, CBS News, "Is justice out of reach for an American teacher murdered in South Korea?," 10 Aug. 2019 The vehicle had been ransacked and belongings from the glove box were on the floor but nothing was reported stolen. chicagotribune.com, "Woman cited after Chihuahua bites child: Buffalo Grove police," 29 July 2019 Although the house had been ransacked, electronics and jewelry had not been taken. Steve Helling, PEOPLE.com, "Texas Football Coach Accused of Killing Pregnant Wife Admits Having Affair at Time of Murder," 12 July 2019 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

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

3 Oct 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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