- 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.
- to act as a scavenger.
- (of an engine or cylinder) to become scavenged of burnt gases.
- to search, especially for food.
Origin of scavenge
First recorded in 1635–45; back formation from scavenger
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for scavenging
Otherwise, the elderly monk toils solo during long days scavenging and building.Spain’s Mad Monk Has Built a Massive Cathedral Entirely by Hand
January 16, 2014
Chicagoan Bill Smith discovered Chen three years ago when she was scavenging for survival in Phnom Penh's toxic garbage dumps.13 Riveting Stories From the Summit
March 12, 2011
One of these scavenging birds was seen to be carrying a long object, like an eel, in its mouth.On the Seashore
R. Cadwallader Smith
Obstruction of the contractor or local authority in scavenging the streets or in removal of refuse, 5, or less (s. 42).Cooley's Practical Receipts, Volume II
They had, in order to be consistent and to talk big about morality, to include novels in their scheme of scavenging.Books and Persons
They do scavenging work, and eat the refuse food thrown away by people from the leaf plate after a meal.Castes and Tribes of Southern India
It is a familiar figure in most of the towns and villages where its scavenging is of the greatest use.Little Folks (July 1884)
- 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 scavenging
1640s, back-formation from scavenger. Related: Scavenged; scavenging.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper