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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.
Origin of ransack
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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British Dictionary definitions for ransacker


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
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Word Origin and History for ransacker



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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