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[ruhm-ij] /ˈrʌm ɪdʒ/
verb (used with object), rummaged, rummaging.
to search thoroughly or actively through (a place, receptacle, etc.), especially by moving around, turning over, or looking through contents.
to find, bring, or fetch by searching (often followed by out or up).
verb (used without object), rummaged, rummaging.
to search actively, as in a place or receptacle or within oneself:
She rummaged in her mind for the forgotten name.
miscellaneous articles; odds and ends.
a rummaging search.
Origin of rummage
1520-30; aphetic alteration of Middle French arrumage, equivalent to arrum(er) to stow goods in the hold of a ship (< ?) + -age -age
Related forms
rummager, noun
unrummaged, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for rummage
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I want to rummage over my thoughts and see whether some of them are to be abandoned or not.'

    A Woman Intervenes Robert Barr
  • After the action we went to rummage a sort of camp, which they had left behind them.

    The Jest Book Mark Lemon
  • So I had to rummage through the refrigerator and use my own judgment.

    The Wall Between

    Sara Ware Bassett
  • She had to rummage her memory awhile to discover just what it was.

    The Faith Doctor Edward Eggleston
  • Did I ever walk into your house to pry and rummage, and tell you that your things were no use?

    A Little Country Girl Susan Coolidge
  • You begin now and rummage the barn, and I'll wait here for you.

    Little Men Louisa May Alcott
  • She longed, she said, to go over the garrets and rummage her old nursery.

    Life and Letters of Lord Macaulay George Otto Trevelyan
British Dictionary definitions for rummage


when intr, often foll by through. to search (through) while looking for something, often causing disorder or confusion
an act of rummaging
a jumble of articles
(obsolete) confusion or bustle
Derived Forms
rummager, noun
Word Origin
C14 (in the sense: to pack a cargo): from Old French arrumage, from arrumer to stow in a ship's hold, probably of Germanic origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for rummage

1540s, "arrange (cargo) in a ship," from rummage (n.), 1520s, "act of arranging cargo in a ship," a shortening of Middle French arrumage "arrangement of cargo," from arrumer "to stow goods in the hold of a ship," from a- "to" + rumer, probably from Germanic (cf. Old Norse rum "compartment in a ship," Old High German rum "space," Old English rum; see room (n.)). Or else from English room (n.) + -age.

Meaning "to search closely (the hold of a ship), especially by moving things about" first recorded 1610s. Related: Rummaged; rummaging. Rummage sale (1803) originally was a sale at docks of unclaimed goods.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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