[ skav-in-jer ]
See synonyms for scavenger on
  1. an animal or other organism that feeds on dead organic matter.

  2. a person who searches through and collects items from discarded material.

  1. a street cleaner.

  2. Chemistry. a chemical that consumes or renders inactive the impurities in a mixture.

Origin of scavenger

1520–30; earlier scavager<Anglo-French scawageour, equivalent to (e)scawage inspection (escaw(er) to inspect <Middle Dutch schauwen to look at (cognate with show) + -age-age) + -eour-or2

Words Nearby scavenger Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use scavenger in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for scavenger


/ (ˈskævɪndʒə) /

  1. a person who collects things discarded by others

  2. any animal that feeds on decaying organic matter, esp on refuse

  1. a substance added to a chemical reaction or mixture to counteract the effect of impurities

  2. a person employed to clean the streets

Origin of scavenger

C16: from Anglo-Norman scawager, from Old Norman French escauwage examination, from escauwer to scrutinize, of Germanic origin; related to Flemish scauwen

Derived forms of scavenger

  • scavengery, noun

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

Scientific definitions for scavenger


[ skăvən-jər ]

  1. An animal that feeds on dead organisms, especially a carnivorous animal that eats dead animals rather than or in addition to hunting live prey. Vultures, hyenas, and wolves are scavengers.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.