scav·​enge ˈska-vənj How to pronounce scavenge (audio)
scavenged; scavenging

transitive verb

: to remove (dirt, refuse, etc.) from an area
: to clean away dirt or refuse from : cleanse
scavenge a street
: to feed on (carrion or refuse)
: to remove (burned gases) from the cylinder of an internal combustion engine after a working stroke
: to remove (something, such as an undesirable constituent) from a substance or region by chemical or physical means
: to clean and purify (molten metal) by taking up foreign elements in chemical union
: to salvage from discarded or refuse material
also : to salvage usable material from

intransitive verb

: to work or act as a scavenger

Example Sentences

Rats scavenged in the trash. The bears scavenged the woods for food. He scavenged the town dump for automobile parts.
Recent Examples on the Web The bathynomus yucatanensis is a species of giant isopod, crustaceans that scavenge for food at the bottom of the ocean. Zoe Sottile, CNN, 13 Aug. 2022 Michael Beidler has lived on the block for more than three decades and sees rats scavenge in trash bags left outside, often on the ground spilling over from dumpsters. Joe Fox, Washington Post, 28 Oct. 2022 As with all your electronics, be sure to choose options that can recharge via your solar setup, or run on batteries that are easy to scavenge for (AA and AAA). Outside Online, 21 June 2022 The applicator tube had first washed up ashore, part of the many tons of seaborne trash that Riley, a Brooklyn artist known to scavenge New York’s waterways for materials and inspiration, has collected over the years. New York Times, 16 June 2022 Players must locate and scavenge their own weapons, vehicles and supplies, and defeat rivals in a steadily shrinking play zone. Todd Spangler, Variety, 31 May 2022 Russia is being forced to scavenge for components from home appliances in order to keep its military hardware functioning. Matthew Humphries, PCMAG, 13 May 2022 Travelers ready for a treasure hunt can slap on some sunscreen and scavenge the beach for the wide variety of gorgeous shells. Jessica Poitevien, Travel + Leisure, 7 Mar. 2022 Ukrainian officials said the attack Wednesday at a medical complex in Mariupol, where a siege has forced residents to scavenge for food and water, killed three people, including a girl, and wounded at least 17 people. Evgeniy Maloletka, ajc, 10 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

Word History


back-formation from scavenger

First Known Use

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

Time Traveler
The first known use of scavenge was circa 1644

Dictionary Entries Near scavenge

Cite this Entry

“Scavenge.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition


scav·​enge ˈskav-ənj How to pronounce scavenge (audio)
scavenged; scavenging
: to collect usable things from what has been discarded

More from Merriam-Webster on scavenge

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

Commonly Confused Words Quiz

  • vector image of a face with thought expression
  • I went to the ______ store to buy a birthday card.
Spell It

Hear a word and type it out. How many can you get right?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.