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[ran-sak] /ˈræn sæk/
verb (used with object)
to search thoroughly or vigorously through (a house, receptacle, etc.):
They ransacked the house for the missing letter.
to search through for plunder; pillage:
The enemy ransacked the entire town.
1200-50; Middle English ransaken < Old Norse rannsaka to search, examine (for evidence of crime), equivalent to rann house + saka search (variant of soekja to seek)
Related forms
ransacker, noun
unransacked, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for ransacked
  • Heating boilers, pipes and air-conditioners have been ransacked.
  • He was forced into a chair for four hours while officers ransacked his house.
  • Some favela residents complained that police ransacked their homes.
  • Shops have been ransacked and food has become scarce.
  • The interior has been ransacked by rebels and gutted by looters.
  • To obtain these, they often ransacked the older treasures of the language.
  • Her gallery was ransacked, and she lost her savings and jewelry.
  • Its contents, though hastily ransacked in antiquity, were surprisingly complete.
  • Hundreds of monasteries were shuttered or ransacked, and thousands of monks disappeared.
  • His house had been ransacked, and his car was stolen.
British Dictionary definitions for ransacked


verb (transitive)
to search through every part of (a house, box, etc); examine thoroughly
to plunder; pillage
Derived Forms
ransacker, noun
Word Origin
C13: from Old Norse rann house + saka to search, seek
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
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Word Origin and History for ransacked



mid-13c., from a Scandinavian source akin to Old Norse rannsaka "to pillage," literally "search the house" (especially legally, for stolen goods), from rann "house," from Proto-Germanic *rasnan (c.f. Gothic razn, Old English ærn "house;" see barn) + saka "to search," related to Old Norse soekja "seek" (see seek). Sense influenced by sack (v.). Related: Ransacked; ransacking.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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