verb (used with object), scav·enged, scav·eng·ing.

to take or gather (something usable) from discarded material.
to cleanse of filth, as a street.
to expel burnt gases from (the cylinder of an internal-combustion engine).
Metallurgy. to purify (molten metal) by introducing a substance that will combine chemically with impurities.

verb (used without object), scav·enged, scav·eng·ing.

Origin of scavenge

First recorded in 1635–45; back formation from scavenger
Related formsun·scav·enged, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for scavenge

Contemporary Examples of scavenge

Historical Examples of scavenge

  • Neglect of local authority to scavenge after undertaking to do so, 5s.

  • There was a fair chance this early that he could scavenge something edible.

    Badge of Infamy

    Lester del Rey

  • The symbiote might produce sugars, scavenge the blood of toxins—there are so many things it could do.

    Planet of the Damned

    Harry Harrison

  • It was not implied that it was part of the duty of the Bembridge green committee to scavenge the seashore.

    Fifty Years of Golf

    Horace G. Hutchinson

British Dictionary definitions for scavenge



to search for (anything usable) among discarded material
(tr) to purify (a molten metal) by bubbling a suitable gas through it. The gas may be inert or may react with the impurities
to clean up filth from (streets, etc)
chem to act as a scavenger for (atoms, molecules, ions, radicals, etc)
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 scavenge

1640s, back-formation from scavenger. Related: Scavenged; scavenging.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper