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90s Slang You Should Know


[skav-in-jer] /ˈskæv ɪn dʒər/
an animal or other organism that feeds on dead organic matter.
a person who searches through and collects items from discarded material.
a street cleaner.
Chemistry. a chemical that consumes or renders inactive the impurities in a mixture.
Origin of scavenger
1520-30; earlier scavager < Anglo-French scawageour, equivalent to (e)scawage inspection (escaw(er) to inspect < Middle Dutch schauwen to look at (cognate with show) + -age -age) + -eour -or2 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for scavenger
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • There is another way in which he is beneficial, and that is as a scavenger.

    Poachers and Poaching John Watson
  • Just beyond, he could see the sleek silvery lines of the scavenger.

    Gold in the Sky Alan Edward Nourse
  • The other scavenger's turret-hatch also swung slightly open.

    World of the Drone Robert Abernathy
  • The scavenger was moving fast now, dwindling in the viewscreen.

    Gold in the Sky Alan Edward Nourse
  • The scavenger, with his broom which had just swept the High-street, was clearing away a heap of mud.

  • The scavenger was grappled to the orbit-ship's hull by magnetic cables.

    Gold in the Sky Alan Edward Nourse
  • He, too, scavenger though he is, has a genius for being graceful.

    A Florida Sketch-Book Bradford Torrey
  • Why, they might just as well be thrown into the gutter and carried off in the scavenger's cart.

British Dictionary definitions for scavenger


a person who collects things discarded by others
any animal that feeds on decaying organic matter, esp on refuse
a substance added to a chemical reaction or mixture to counteract the effect of impurities
a person employed to clean the streets
Derived Forms
scavengery, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Anglo-Norman scawager, from Old Norman French escauwage examination, from escauwer to scrutinize, of Germanic origin; related to Flemish scauwen
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 scavenger

1540s, originally "person hired to remove refuse from streets," from Middle English scawageour (late 14c.), London official in charge of collecting tax on goods sold by foreign merchants, from Anglo-French scawager, from scawage "toll or duty on goods offered for sale in one's precinct" (c.1400), from Old North French escauwage "inspection," from a Germanic source (cf. Old High German scouwon, Old English sceawian "to look at, inspect;" see show (v.)).

It has come to be regarded as an agent noun in -er, but the verb is a late back-formation from the noun. With intrusive -n- (c.1500) as in harbinger, passenger, messenger. Extended to animals 1590s. Scavenger hunt is attested from 1937.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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scavenger in Science
An animal that feeds on dead organisms, especially a carnivorous animal that eats dead animals rather than or in addition to hunting live prey. Vultures, hyenas, and wolves are scavengers.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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