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[ruhm-ij] /ˈrʌm ɪdʒ/
verb (used with object), rummaged, rummaging.
to search thoroughly or actively through (a place, receptacle, etc.), especially by moving around, turning over, or looking through contents.
to find, bring, or fetch by searching (often followed by out or up).
verb (used without object), rummaged, rummaging.
to search actively, as in a place or receptacle or within oneself:
She rummaged in her mind for the forgotten name.
miscellaneous articles; odds and ends.
a rummaging search.
Origin of rummage
1520-30; aphetic alteration of Middle French arrumage, equivalent to arrum(er) to stow goods in the hold of a ship (< ?) + -age -age
Related forms
rummager, noun
unrummaged, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for rummaging
Historical Examples
  • Every evening is spent in cleaning guns, rummaging for unprepossessing treasures of shooting and fishing equipment.

    Etiquette Emily Post
  • She was rummaging for the soap and for an answer to his first remark.

    In a Little Town Rupert Hughes
  • And immediately the man turned back to the desk to renew his rummaging--in search of a key to fit the case, she guessed.

    Nobody Louis Joseph Vance
  • We put in nearly a week rummaging through that moldy old barracks.

    Shorty McCabe Sewell Ford
  • All this time he was rummaging in the drawer of an old-fashioned bureau, and now he turned round, with a bundle of yellow MSS.

    Curious, if True Elizabeth Gaskell
  • A number of pigs and fowl were rummaging about the kitchen at will.

  • Once while rummaging amongst my mother's treasures I had come across a miniature of Signor Toritti.

    The Chief Legatee Anna Katharine Green
  • In the next instant he was rummaging in the medicine closet.

    Creatures of Vibration Harl Vincent
  • rummaging in his breast pocket with his free hand, he brought out a yellow message form.

    Planet of the Damned Harry Harrison
  • They dropped and died on the dust-heaps they had been rummaging for offal.

    The Dop Doctor Clotilde Inez Mary Graves
British Dictionary definitions for rummaging


when intr, often foll by through. to search (through) while looking for something, often causing disorder or confusion
an act of rummaging
a jumble of articles
(obsolete) confusion or bustle
Derived Forms
rummager, noun
Word Origin
C14 (in the sense: to pack a cargo): from Old French arrumage, from arrumer to stow in a ship's hold, probably of Germanic origin
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 rummaging



1540s, "arrange (cargo) in a ship," from rummage (n.), 1520s, "act of arranging cargo in a ship," a shortening of Middle French arrumage "arrangement of cargo," from arrumer "to stow goods in the hold of a ship," from a- "to" + rumer, probably from Germanic (cf. Old Norse rum "compartment in a ship," Old High German rum "space," Old English rum; see room (n.)). Or else from English room (n.) + -age.

Meaning "to search closely (the hold of a ship), especially by moving things about" first recorded 1610s. Related: Rummaged; rummaging. Rummage sale (1803) originally was a sale at docks of unclaimed goods.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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