scav·​enge | \ˈska-vənj, -vinj\
scavenged; scavenging

Definition of scavenge 

transitive verb

1a(1) : to remove (dirt, refuse, etc.) from an area

(2) : to clean away dirt or refuse from : cleanse scavenge a street

b : to feed on (carrion or refuse)

2a : to remove (burned gases) from the cylinder of an internal combustion engine after a working stroke

b : to remove (something, such as an undesirable constituent) from a substance or region by chemical or physical means

c : to clean and purify (molten metal) by taking up foreign elements in chemical union

3 : to salvage from discarded or refuse material also : to salvage usable material from

intransitive verb

: to work or act as a scavenger

Examples of scavenge in a Sentence

Rats scavenged in the trash. The bears scavenged the woods for food. He scavenged the town dump for automobile parts.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Hundreds of officials from the FBI and Gastonia police and fire scavenged the park during the last six days looking for Maddox. Kathleen Joyce, Fox News, "Police searching for mysterious man in white truck who may have been last to see missing boy with autism," 28 Sep. 2018 Peter was a few steps out in the sand, looking at a large flock of seagulls that were walking around near the shore, scavenging the sand for food. Ellie Delano, Woman's Day, "Sweet Dreams," 3 Nov. 2010 That was the case Saturday in the Canadian capital, where FC Cincinnati spent the second half churning out chances that kept the USL's worst team scavenging to keep the match scoreless. Charlie Hatch,, "FC Cincinnati beats Ottawa Fury FC 3-0 on Saturday afternoon," 28 Apr. 2018 Hundreds of pairs flock to the city to scavenge for fish near markets and canals. Elaina Zachos, National Geographic, "Why This Zoo Lion Killed a Lost Water Bird," 28 June 2018 Previous research, Serpell said, has found that free-roaming dogs in developing countries, who must scavenge to fill their bellies, eat quite a lot of human feces. Robert Rhoden,, "Cat beaten, stabbed and set on fire in Baltimore: report," 19 Jan. 2018 There were also many women scavenging in these harsh conditions. Photographs And Text By Ivor Prickett, New York Times, "‘Here Is the Graveyard of ISIS’: In Mosul, the Garbage Men Collect Remains," 6 May 2018 Other things the young Scramuzza would do to bring home money: selling newspapers and shining shoes in Exchange Alley, as well as selling duck eggs scavenged in City Park. Mike Scott,, "Part showman, part pitchman and all homegrown personality," 28 Oct. 2017 The second, is that the tortoise died near the pond from starvation or heat stroke in the arid environment and a nearby crocodile scavenged its rotting carapace. Nicholas St. Fleur, New York Times, "Ancient Crocodiles Once Feasted on Giant Tortoises on This Island," 23 Jan. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'scavenge.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of scavenge

circa 1644, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a(1)

History and Etymology for scavenge

back-formation from scavenger

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about scavenge

Statistics for scavenge

Last Updated

23 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for scavenge

The first known use of scavenge was circa 1644

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for scavenge



English Language Learners Definition of scavenge

of an animal : to search for food to eat

: to search through waste, junk, etc., for something that can be saved or used


scav·​enge | \ˈska-vənj \
scavenged; scavenging

Kids Definition of scavenge

: to search through and collect usable items especially from what has been thrown away

More from Merriam-Webster on scavenge

Spanish Central: Translation of scavenge

Nglish: Translation of scavenge for Spanish Speakers

Comments on scavenge

What made you want to look up scavenge? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a nest or breeding place

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!