ra·​pa·​cious rə-ˈpā-shəs How to pronounce rapacious (audio)
: excessively grasping or covetous
: living on prey
: ravenous
a rapacious appetite
rapaciously adverb
rapaciousness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for rapacious

voracious, gluttonous, ravenous, rapacious mean excessively greedy.

voracious applies especially to habitual gorging with food or drink.

teenagers are often voracious eaters

gluttonous applies to one who delights in eating or acquiring things especially beyond the point of necessity or satiety.

an admiral who was gluttonous for glory

ravenous implies excessive hunger and suggests violent or grasping methods of dealing with food or with whatever satisfies an appetite.

a nation with a ravenous lust for territorial expansion

rapacious often suggests excessive and utterly selfish acquisitiveness or avarice.

rapacious developers indifferent to environmental concerns

Examples of rapacious in a Sentence

nothing livens things up like a whole team of rapacious basketball players descending upon the pizza parlor rapacious mammals, such as coyotes, foxes, and bobcats
Recent Examples on the Web Excited by the film’s premise — a retelling of the murder of members of Oklahoma’s Osage tribe for their oil wealth by rapacious whites during the 1920s — fans seemed unaware of those crimes, even though Killers is not the first film version of that history. Armond White, National Review, 8 Nov. 2023 Been there, done that So on a late-July morning of this hot labor summer, before the rehearsal cranked up, Flores, the son of farmworker-organizer activists, was holding forth on rapacious corporate landlords, the erosion of working class living standards, and why Kevin de León has got to go. Reed Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 18 Aug. 2023 Over the years, her public persona often overshadowed her prodigious output, especially in Britain, where she was stalked by rapacious tabloids. Nancy Hass, New York Times, 2 Nov. 2023 The curse was it brought in all these rapacious settlers. Sean Woods, Rolling Stone, 22 Oct. 2023 Bukele has managed to do what his predecessors couldn’t: virtually dismantle El Salvador’s rapacious street gangs. Amada Torruella, The New Yorker, 27 Sep. 2023 Her vulnerability is taken advantage of by rapacious men and her humility extinguished by power. Peter Marks, Washington Post, 18 Sep. 2023 After a mysterious disease wiped out the predatory sunflower sea star, rapacious urchins have flourished, felling the massive underwater forests. Dino Grandoni and Melina Mara, Anchorage Daily News, 11 Sep. 2023 Best for groceries Groceries dominate the budget in many American homes—especially those with rapacious teenagers. Kerri Anne Renzulli, wsj.com, 6 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'rapacious.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin rapāc-, rapāx "given to seizing or catching things (as prey), carrying away, excessively grasping" (from rapere "to seize and carry off" + -āc-, -āx, deverbal suffix denoting habitual or successful performance) + -ious — more at rapid entry 1, audacious

First Known Use

1651, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of rapacious was in 1651

Dictionary Entries Near rapacious

Cite this Entry

“Rapacious.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rapacious. Accessed 29 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


ra·​pa·​cious rə-ˈpā-shəs How to pronounce rapacious (audio)
: very greedy
rapaciously adverb
rapaciousness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on rapacious

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