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

The creative team tried to limit itself to materials that Bernadette might have scavenged from within the former school, echoing the ecological and technical limitations the character imposes on herself in the story. Alexandra Lange, Curbed, "What ‘Where’d You Go, Bernadette?’ meant to me as a woman in architecture," 13 Aug. 2019 Coyotes, cougars and gray wolves were better able to adapt their diets by hunting small mammals or scavenge from carcasses when large prey disappeared. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "Fossils in La Brea Tar Pits reveal why coyotes still exist, but not saber-toothed cats," 5 Aug. 2019 This is the guy who comes from a city that lionized a rat who scavenged a slice of pizza in a subway station. Petula Dvorak, Washington Post, "The vermin in the White House," 29 July 2019 In a very nice touch, curator Sarah Kennel has included a giddily eclectic selection of objects that Parker has scavenged over the years. Mark Feeney,, "At the Peabody Essex, marvelousness made visible," 18 July 2019 Lead poisoning is a serious problem for raptors that scavenge on dead animals, such as golden and bald eagles, as well as vultures. Douglas Main, National Geographic, "This lead-poisoned eagle miraculously recovered. Most aren’t so lucky," 26 June 2019 The researchers also concluded that the trauma to the skull was not caused by post-mortem factors, like scavenging or soil pressure. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "This 33,000-Year-Old Man May Have Been Killed by a Left-Handed Murderer," 5 July 2019 Volunteers had scavenged the wood to build the house and had painted murals on the outer walls. Lauren Collins, The New Yorker, "Can Emmanuel Macron Stem the Populist Tide?," 24 June 2019 Ironically, when the wolves venture out of the conflict area to scavenge and hunt, they can be legally shot. Josh Adler, National Geographic, "Making peace in the Golan Heights—between humans and wolves," 11 Apr. 2019

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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Statistics for scavenge

Last Updated

17 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for scavenge

The first known use of scavenge was circa 1644

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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 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

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).


not constant or steady

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