verb (used with object)

to search thoroughly or vigorously through (a house, receptacle, etc.): They ransacked the house for the missing letter.
to search through for plunder; pillage: The enemy ransacked the entire town.

Nearby words

  1. ranking member,
  2. rankism,
  3. rankle,
  4. rankly,
  5. rankshift,
  6. ransom,
  7. ransom, john crowe,
  8. ransome,
  9. ransomware,
  10. rant

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. 2019

Examples from the Web for ransack

British Dictionary definitions for ransack


verb (tr)

to search through every part of (a house, box, etc); examine thoroughly
to plunder; pillage
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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper