scavenger

noun
scav·​en·​ger | \ ˈska-vən-jər How to pronounce scavenger (audio) \

Definition of scavenger

1 chiefly British : a person employed to remove dirt and refuse from streets
2 : one that scavenges: such as
a : a garbage collector
b : a junk collector
c : a chemically active substance acting to make innocuous or remove an undesirable substance
3 : an organism that typically feeds on refuse or carrion

Did you know?

You might guess that scavenger is a derivative of scavenge, but the reverse is actually true; scavenger is the older word, first appearing in English in the early 16th century, and the back-formation scavenge came into English in the mid-17th century. Scavenger is an alteration of the earlier scavager, itself from Anglo-French scawageour, meaning "collector of scavage." In medieval times, scavage was a tax levied by towns and cities on goods put up for sale by nonresidents in order to provide resident merchants with a competitive advantage. The officers in charge of collecting this tax were later made responsible for keeping streets clean, and that's how scavenger came to refer to a public sanitation employee in Great Britain before acquiring its current sense referring to a person who salvages discarded items.

Examples of scavenger in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Zoom game night: The Forest Preserve District of Will County will host a virtual family game night, featuring trivia, puzzle solving and scavenger hunts, at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 1. Michelle Mullins, chicagotribune.com, 26 Nov. 2021 But these aren't the only prominent companies that have activist investors circling them like a scavenger does with carrion. Paul R. La Monica, CNN, 24 Jan. 2022 In 2020 and 2021, Maple Crest hosted Halloween scavenger hunts to draw pandemic-weary residents out of the house. Bob Sandrick, cleveland, 21 Mar. 2022 Featuring ice sculptures and carving demonstrations, photo contests, special deals from local vendors, scavenger hunts, and much more, love will be in the air in Loveland. Paul Daugherty, The Enquirer, 10 Feb. 2022 The shaved ice business has been so successful, Sno Problem added a second trailer last year for birthday parties and fundraisers at schools, pools, scavenger hunts and special events. Suzanne Baker, chicagotribune.com, 5 Feb. 2022 Branches will also host programs for families, with crafts, scavenger hunts, art projects, games and book clubs on the docket. Anne Nickoloff, cleveland, 1 Feb. 2022 The various episodes are full of colorful characters – including Erin Kellyman as a spirited woman who needs Gawain’s help and Barry Keoghan as a scavenger looking for a bit of kindness – as well as an enjoyably dark sense of humor. Brian Truitt, Detroit Free Press, 30 July 2021 The various episodes are full of colorful characters – including Erin Kellyman as a spirited woman who needs Gawain's help and Barry Keoghan as a scavenger looking for a bit of kindness – as well as an enjoyably dark sense of humor. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, 26 July 2021 See More

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

First Known Use of scavenger

1530, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for scavenger

alteration of earlier scavager, from Anglo-French scawageour collector of scavage (duty collected from non-resident street merchants), from skawage scavage, from Middle French dialect (Flanders) escauver to inspect, from Middle Dutch scouwen; akin to Old English scēawian to look at — more at show

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The first known use of scavenger was in 1530

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Dictionary Entries Near scavenger

scavenge pipe

scavenger

scavenger's daughter

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Last Updated

8 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Scavenger.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/scavenger. Accessed 17 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for scavenger

scavenger

noun
scav·​en·​ger | \ ˈska-vən-jər How to pronounce scavenger (audio) \

Kids Definition of scavenger

1 : a person who picks over junk or garbage for useful items
2 : an animal (as a vulture) that feeds on dead or decaying material

More from Merriam-Webster on scavenger

Nglish: Translation of scavenger for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of scavenger for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about scavenger

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