Definition of pillage in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈpilij/


[with object]
1Rob (a place) using violence, especially in wartime.
Example sentences
  • During the first two nights of pillaging the Capital City, over half a million people were killed.
  • Tottenham Court Road was pillaged by a mob of sixty hardcore anarchists.
  • European countries raped and pillaged the continent, destroying the social fabric and leaving a metaphorical smoking hole behind.
1.1Steal (something) using violence, especially in wartime: artworks pillaged from churches and museums
More example sentences
  • Our people have had to submit to its wishes every year to keep it from setting fire to our lands, stealing my people, pillaging their houses as well as a list of other horrible things.
  • I deplore the way that the US goes into countries and pillages them, stealing their assets.
  • The problem is that if the pirates carry on pillaging the fish, they will put themselves, and the rest of the world's legitimate tuna boats, out of business.
sack, devastate, lay waste, ravage, rape
informal swipe, rob, nab, rip off, lift, “liberate”, “borrow”, filch, snaffle, pinch, heist


The action of pillaging a place or property, especially in wartime.
Example sentences
  • Leaving ‘the whole subject’ to local commanders nevertheless permitted considerable latitude for pillage or destruction and was in itself an important principle.
  • Well prior to the outbreak of the current war, they warned the Pentagon of the dangers to Iraq's cultural heritage posed by postwar pillage and destruction.
  • During the 1846 U.S. invasion of Mexico, newspapers reported pillage, rape, and murder of civilians by Gen. Zachary Taylor's soldiers.
robbery, robbing, raiding, plunder, looting, sacking, rape, marauding
literary rapine



Pronunciation: /ˈpiləjər/
Example sentences
  • We need not look for ‘proof’ by poring over the dusty records of the meticulous pillagers, marauders, and savvy tradesmen.
  • In other lands however there are pillagers and marauders that keep me strong, but soon will come a time when slaughter shall cover these lands and I shall rise above the rest.
  • In the ninth century, when Paris was invaded by the Norsemen, those great pillagers of tombs, her relics were taken for safety some fifteen miles away.


Late Middle English (as a noun): from Old French, from piller 'to plunder'.

  • caterpillar from Late Middle English:

    The caterpillar first appeared in English in the form catyrpel, probably an alteration of the Old French word chatepelose, literally ‘hairy cat’. English used to have a word piller, meaning ‘a plunderer or ravager’ (related to pillage) and, given the damage that caterpillars do to plants, it is likely that this influenced how the word is spelt.

Words that rhyme with pillage

grillage, spillage, stillage, tillage, village

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: pil·lage

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