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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 for ransack

raid, seize, pillage, rob, plunder, scour, gut, loot, comb, spy, scan, poach, probe, sack, scrutinize, maraud, strip, pry, rape, overhaul

Examples from the Web for ransack

Historical Examples of ransack

  • 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 for ransack

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