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[skav-inj] /ˈskæv ɪndʒ/
verb (used with object), scavenged, scavenging.
to take or gather (something usable) from discarded material.
to cleanse of filth, as a street.
to expel burnt gases from (the cylinder of an internal-combustion engine).
Metallurgy. to purify (molten metal) by introducing a substance that will combine chemically with impurities.
verb (used without object), scavenged, scavenging.
to act as a scavenger.
(of an engine or cylinder) to become scavenged of burnt gases.
to search, especially for food.
Origin of scavenge
First recorded in 1635-45; back formation from scavenger
Related forms
unscavenged, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for scavenging
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • One of these scavenging birds was seen to be carrying a long object, like an eel, in its mouth.

    On the Seashore

    R. Cadwallader Smith
  • Obstruction of the contractor or local authority in scavenging the streets or in removal of refuse, 5, or less (s. 42).

  • They had, in order to be consistent and to talk big about morality, to include novels in their scheme of scavenging.

    Books and Persons Arnold Bennett
  • They do scavenging work, and eat the refuse food thrown away by people from the leaf plate after a meal.

  • It is a familiar figure in most of the towns and villages where its scavenging is of the greatest use.

  • The Haddis proper never do sweeping or scavenging work, which are, in some places, done by Rellis.

  • It was there in the howl of the scavenging camp dogs, seeking, in their prowling pack, that which the daylight denied them.

    The Triumph of John Kars

    Ridgwell Cullum
  • It should be said also that in New York an enormous amount of scavenging is paid for privately besides.

    Germany and the Germans Price Collier
British Dictionary definitions for scavenging


to search for (anything usable) among discarded material
(transitive) to purify (a molten metal) by bubbling a suitable gas through it. The gas may be inert or may react with the impurities
to clean up filth from (streets, etc)
(chem) to act as a scavenger for (atoms, molecules, ions, radicals, etc)
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 scavenging



1640s, back-formation from scavenger. Related: Scavenged; scavenging.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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