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See more synonyms for scavenge on Thesaurus.com
verb (used with object), scav·enged, scav·eng·ing.
  1. to take or gather (something usable) from discarded material.
  2. to cleanse of filth, as a street.
  3. to expel burnt gases from (the cylinder of an internal-combustion engine).
  4. Metallurgy. to purify (molten metal) by introducing a substance that will combine chemically with impurities.
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verb (used without object), scav·enged, scav·eng·ing.
  1. to act as a scavenger.
  2. (of an engine or cylinder) to become scavenged of burnt gases.
  3. to search, especially for food.
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Origin of scavenge

First recorded in 1635–45; back formation from scavenger
Related formsun·scav·enged, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for scavenge

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • 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


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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper