scav·​enge | \ ˈska-vənj How to pronounce scavenge (audio) , -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.
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Recent Examples on the Web For a long time, scientists assumed that birds had to collect hair that had been shed or scavenge it from mammal carcasses. New York Times, 6 Aug. 2021 Students and non-students alike travel to Allston to scavenge for leftovers., 1 Sep. 2021 Those could be installed everywhere from automobile exhaust pipes to water heaters and industrial furnaces to scavenge some of the 65% of fossil fuel energy that winds up as waste heat. Robert F. Service, Science | AAAS, 2 Aug. 2021 Children scavenge the beaches for Petoskey stones, filigreed with fossilized coral from the Devonian period 350 million years ago. Maggie Shipstead, Condé Nast Traveler, 9 July 2021 The problem is that minefields are notoriously difficult to clean up—armies often lose track of them, and civilians often wander through idle battlefields to scavenge scrap metals or even begin farming. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 11 June 2021 The Jazz, eager to scavenge something from the rubble, seized on that late pushback as cause for optimism for Game 5 on Wednesday in Salt Lake City. Los Angeles Times, 15 June 2021 Teams must scavenge for weapons, Scorestreaks, Armor, and other items. Erik Kain, Forbes, 19 May 2021 Researchers have built chips that scavenge energy from light, heat or vibration. The Economist, 14 Apr. 2021

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for scavenge

Time Traveler

The first known use of scavenge was circa 1644

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Dictionary Entries Near scavenge



scavenge pipe

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Statistics for scavenge

Last Updated

16 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Scavenge.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for scavenge



English Language Learners Definition of scavenge

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


scav·​enge | \ ˈska-vənj How to pronounce scavenge (audio) \
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

Nglish: Translation of scavenge for Spanish Speakers


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