ra·​pa·​cious rə-ˈpā-shəs How to pronounce rapacious (audio)
: excessively grasping or covetous
: living on prey
: ravenous
a rapacious appetite
rapaciously adverb
rapaciousness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for rapacious

voracious, gluttonous, ravenous, rapacious mean excessively greedy.

voracious applies especially to habitual gorging with food or drink.

teenagers are often voracious eaters

gluttonous applies to one who delights in eating or acquiring things especially beyond the point of necessity or satiety.

an admiral who was gluttonous for glory

ravenous implies excessive hunger and suggests violent or grasping methods of dealing with food or with whatever satisfies an appetite.

a nation with a ravenous lust for territorial expansion

rapacious often suggests excessive and utterly selfish acquisitiveness or avarice.

rapacious developers indifferent to environmental concerns

Example Sentences

nothing livens things up like a whole team of rapacious basketball players descending upon the pizza parlor rapacious mammals, such as coyotes, foxes, and bobcats
Recent Examples on the Web The tech industry is rapacious in its need for skilled workers. Lawrence Wright, The New Yorker, 6 Feb. 2023 Ramonda delivers sharp, precise words for the white Western nations, rapacious for Wakanda’s vibranium, and shames them on the global stage. Fawnia Soo Hoo, The Hollywood Reporter, 7 Dec. 2022 There’s no doubt that the film traffics in important issues, as the world continues to develop a rapacious need for the minerals required to produce cellphone and electric car batteries, among many other things. Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter, 21 Jan. 2023 The pressures being atomized — rapacious capitalism, entrenched sexism — were systemic, but this was no eon-spanning epic. Mark Athitakis, Los Angeles Times, 20 Dec. 2022 The alternative categories of victim and rapacious settler help make better arguments for reparative justice. David Waldstreicher, The Atlantic, 31 Dec. 2022 In Avatar: The Way of Water, Sully and Neytiri must protect their family, and a Na’vi island-dwelling community, from Quaritch, RDA, and a pack of rapacious whalers. Sabrina Torres, Rolling Stone, 19 Dec. 2022 The island colony of Madeira experienced the world’s most spectacular cash crop boom in the 15th century, followed by an epic crash a few decades later as its sugar economy collapsed alongside the deforestation that fueled such rapacious expansion. Susana Ferreira, WIRED, 16 Dec. 2022 The old tale of mammals eking out a living under the talons of rapacious dinosaurs until the asteroid struck doesn’t hold up. Riley Black, Discover Magazine, 29 Sep. 2022 See More

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

Word History


Latin rapāc-, rapāx "given to seizing or catching things (as prey), carrying away, excessively grasping" (from rapere "to seize and carry off" + -āc-, -āx, deverbal suffix denoting habitual or successful performance) + -ious — more at rapid entry 1, audacious

First Known Use

1651, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of rapacious was in 1651

Dictionary Entries Near rapacious

Cite this Entry

“Rapacious.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rapacious. Accessed 24 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


ra·​pa·​cious rə-ˈpā-shəs How to pronounce rapacious (audio)
: very greedy
rapaciously adverb
rapaciousness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on rapacious

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