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 Shops, agricultural estates and government offices in Quito, the capital, have been ransacked. The Economist, "Ecuador falls into chaos after the president cuts fuel subsidies," 10 Oct. 2019 Her apartment was riddled with bullets and completely ransacked. Cameron Knight, Cincinnati.com, "She found her home riddled with bullets and ransacked. Just like she feared.," 24 July 2019 Eventually, the mob that formed ransacked the military hospital Hôtel des Invalides before setting their sights on bigger things. Ryan Prior And Erin Davis, CNN, "Bastille Day inspired centuries of civil disobedience in France. Here's why," 13 July 2019 Prosecutors say Soliz and Ramos forced their way into the home at gunpoint and ransacked the place, taking a television, cellphones and credit cards. CBS News, "Texas executes man for killing 61-year-old grandmother in 2010," 10 Sep. 2019 The group broke into the home, pulled him and his daughter from their beds, and ransacked the place looking for things to steal, police said. Cory Shaffer, cleveland.com, "Prosecutors seek death penalty in torture slayings of East Cleveland father, teen daughter," 31 July 2019 On June 3, soldiers from the Rapid Support Forces, or the RSF, a notorious paramilitary group, attacked protesters in Khartoum, ransacking a central site that the pro-democracy movement had occupied for months. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, "The warlord wrecking Sudan’s revolution," 18 June 2019 Police said the vehicle had been left unlocked and its inside was found ransacked. Chicago Tribune, chicagotribune.com, "Several parked vehicles broken into while parked in Skokie: Police," 16 Apr. 2018 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

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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Statistics for ransack

Last Updated

14 Nov 2019

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
How to pronounce ransack (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ransack

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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