[ loot ]
/ lut /
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See synonyms for: loot / looted / looting / looter on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object)
verb (used without object)
to take loot; plunder: The conquerors looted and robbed.
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Origin of loot

First recorded in 1780–90; from Hindi lūṭ, from Sanskrit lotra, loptra “booty, spoil”


looter, noun

Other definitions for loot (2 of 2)

[ loot ]
/ lut /

verb Scot.
simple past tense of let1.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does loot mean?

Loot is an informal way to collectively refer to valued goods, often ones that are newly acquired, as in That is one big pile of birthday presents—look at all that loot!

This meaning of loot is an extension of its original sense, which is still used but less commonly: goods stolen during war. Close synonyms are spoils and plunder. These words and loot can also refer more generally to anything stolen or taken in a dishonest way, such as through burglary or embezzlement.

Loot can also be used as a verb meaning to steal things in this way. It is most commonly used to refer to opportunistically stealing things from physical locations during chaotic situations, when police or other authorities are preoccupied, such as in the midst of war or a massive protest. It can also be used in a general or somewhat metaphorical way—crimes like embezzling government money are sometimes referred to as looting the treasury. 

The act of doing so is called looting, and those who do it are called looters. These terms and the verb loot are always used negatively. They’re sometimes used in a loaded way that’s intended to portray people as lawless, such as when one tries to discredit protesters by calling them rioters and looters.

Example: The museum has chosen to return artifacts that were looted from other nations during antiquity.

Where does loot come from?

The first records of loot come from the 1780s. It comes from the Hindi lūṭ, which is equivalent to the Sanskrit luṇṭhati, meaning “(he) steals.”

Throughout history, looting has been a common byproduct of war: soldiers from invading armies loot, pillage, and plunder—meaning they use the opportunity to steal valuable stuff and take it home with them. That stuff has been called loot, spoils, plunder, and booty. The modern, informal noun sense of loot, referring collectively to good stuff like gifts or things you just bought, implies that such stuff is like treasure. (The word is often used in video games to refer to virtual items you can acquire in the game, such as by buying a loot box). But this sense of the word loot doesn’t imply that it was acquired in a bad way.

The verb sense of loot, though, always implies this. It can be applied to stealing by deception or stealth, such as a politician secretly taking money from public funds. But looting is most commonly used to refer to the act of stealing goods from physical locations, especially retail stores, during times of chaos.

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What are some other forms related to loot?

  • looter (noun)
  • looting (continuous tense verb, noun)
  • antilooting (adjective)

What are some synonyms for loot?

What are some words that often get used in discussing loot?


How is loot used in real life?

When it refers to gifts or good stuff gotten in a good or neutral way, loot is typically used positively. Looting, looter, and the verb loot are always used negatively.



How to use loot in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for loot

/ (luːt) /

goods stolen during pillaging, as in wartime, during riots, etc
goods, money, etc, obtained illegally
informal money or wealth
the act of looting or plundering
to pillage (a city, settlement, etc) during war or riots
to steal (money or goods), esp during pillaging

Derived forms of loot

looter, noun

Word Origin for loot

C19: from Hindi lūt
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