scavenger

[ skav-in-jer ]
/ ˈskæv ɪn dʒər /

noun

an animal or other organism that feeds on dead organic matter.
a person who searches through and collects items from discarded material.
a street cleaner.
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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for scavengers

British Dictionary definitions for scavengers

scavenger

/ (ˈskævɪndʒə) /

noun

a person who collects things discarded by others
any animal that feeds on decaying organic matter, esp on refuse
a substance added to a chemical reaction or mixture to counteract the effect of impurities
a person employed to clean the streets

Derived Forms

scavengery, noun

Word Origin for scavenger

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

Science definitions for scavengers

scavenger

[ skăvən-jər ]

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.