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See more synonyms for ransack on Thesaurus.com
verb (used with object)
  1. to search thoroughly or vigorously through (a house, receptacle, etc.): They ransacked the house for the missing letter.
  2. to search through for plunder; pillage: The enemy ransacked the entire town.
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Origin of ransack

1200–50; Middle English ransaken < Old Norse rannsaka to search, examine (for evidence of crime), equivalent to rann house + saka search (variant of soekja to seek)
Related formsran·sack·er, nounun·ran·sacked, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for ransack

Historical Examples

  • And my sister, who was always good-natured, carried me off to ransack her wardrobe.

    The Harmsworth Magazine, v. 1, 1898-1899, No. 2


  • There isn't an other one like her if you were to ransack the islands all round the compass.

    The Rescue

    Joseph Conrad

  • You have had the impertience to ransack it in my absence this afternoon.

    Danger! and Other Stories

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • Glavour will ransack the Earth rather than be cheated of one he has marked for his prey.

    Giants on the Earth

    Sterner St. Paul Meek

  • Then the desperadoes went back and began to ransack the stores.

British Dictionary definitions for ransack


verb (tr)
  1. to search through every part of (a house, box, etc); examine thoroughly
  2. to plunder; pillage
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Derived Formsransacker, noun

Word Origin

C13: from Old Norse rann house + saka to search, seek
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

Word Origin and History for ransack


mid-13c., from a Scandinavian source akin to Old Norse rannsaka "to pillage," literally "search the house" (especially legally, for stolen goods), from rann "house," from Proto-Germanic *rasnan (c.f. Gothic razn, Old English ærn "house;" see barn) + saka "to search," related to Old Norse soekja "seek" (see seek). Sense influenced by sack (v.). Related: Ransacked; ransacking.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper