• synonyms


verb (used with object), rum·maged, rum·mag·ing.
  1. to search thoroughly or actively through (a place, receptacle, etc.), especially by moving around, turning over, or looking through contents.
  2. to find, bring, or fetch by searching (often followed by out or up).
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verb (used without object), rum·maged, rum·mag·ing.
  1. to search actively, as in a place or receptacle or within oneself: She rummaged in her mind for the forgotten name.
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  1. miscellaneous articles; odds and ends.
  2. a rummaging search.
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Origin of rummage

1520–30; aphetic alteration of Middle French arrumage, equivalent to arrum(er) to stow goods in the hold of a ship (< ?) + -age -age
Related formsrum·mag·er, nounun·rum·maged, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for rummager

Historical Examples

  • Rummager on the toilet-table, and dabs at her hair with a brush in the interval.

    The Story of the Gadsby

    Rudyard Kipling

  • He is brother to the rummager, but he does not despise catalogues.

British Dictionary definitions for rummager


  1. (when intr , often foll by through) to search (through) while looking for something, often causing disorder or confusion
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  1. an act of rummaging
  2. a jumble of articles
  3. obsolete confusion or bustle
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Derived Formsrummager, noun

Word Origin

C14 (in the sense: to pack a cargo): from Old French arrumage, from arrumer to stow in a ship's hold, probably of Germanic origin
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 rummager



1540s, "arrange (cargo) in a ship," from rummage (n.), 1520s, "act of arranging cargo in a ship," a shortening of Middle French arrumage "arrangement of cargo," from arrumer "to stow goods in the hold of a ship," from a- "to" + rumer, probably from Germanic (cf. Old Norse rum "compartment in a ship," Old High German rum "space," Old English rum; see room (n.)). Or else from English room (n.) + -age.

Meaning "to search closely (the hold of a ship), especially by moving things about" first recorded 1610s. Related: Rummaged; rummaging. Rummage sale (1803) originally was a sale at docks of unclaimed goods.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper