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 Though local divers proceeded to scavenge small artifacts such as lead cannonballs and fragments of ceramic and metal items, the vessel itself remained unidentified until 2001, when divers informed the nearby Kalmar Museum of its presence. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, "Well-Preserved Atlantic Sturgeon Found in 15th-Century Danish Shipwreck," 8 Sep. 2020 From Lake Maracaibo in the west to the Orinoco oil belt in the east, abandoned wells rust in the sun as looters scavenge the metal. Kejal Vyas, WSJ, "Oil Industry Is Fading Away in Land of the World’s Richest Reserves," 4 Sep. 2020 Place them around the yard, and mice scavenge the dry fluffy stuff as nesting material, take a snooze, and dust themselves with the tick-killing chemical. T. Edward Nickens, Field & Stream, "The Best Clothing, Chemicals, and Sprays to Prevent Tick and Chigger Bites," 13 July 2020 For a while after the facility closed in mid-June, Winn and reliever Cole Uvila had to scavenge for fields since many parks in Arizona were closed. Dallas News, "Rangers prospect Cole Winn is stuck in a netherworld in baseball’s makeshift season," 31 July 2020 Lead poisoning is still the primary threat to the species, which scavenge for food. Sophie Lewis, CBS News, "Endangered California condors spotted in Sequoia National Park for the first time in nearly 50 years," 8 July 2020 The freelance miners who scavenge for bits of jade usually work and live at the base of the mounds of earth, which become particularly unstable during the rainy season. NBC News, "Dozens killed by landslide at Myanmar jade mine," 2 July 2020 If you, too, are feeling inspired, go ahead and scavenge for your favourite burgundy bottle in your existing collection. Megan Decker,, "Margot Robbie’s Summer Manicure Is Unexpected & So Chic," 27 May 2020 Some of the remains—like those belonging to seals, dolphins and waterfowl—may have been scavenged from the shore, but the smaller prey could have been easily plucked from low tides, the researchers say. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian Magazine, "Neanderthals Really Liked Seafood," 30 Mar. 2020

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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Statistics for scavenge

Last Updated

15 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Scavenge.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for scavenge


How to pronounce scavenge (audio)

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 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

Comments on scavenge

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