Definition of ransack in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈranˌsak/


[with object]
1Go hurriedly through (a place) stealing things and causing damage: burglars ransacked her home
More example sentences
  • The defence claimed her aunt was viciously beaten by a burglar who ransacked the house.
  • The thieves ransacked the living room but only stole a small amount of jewellery.
  • Then he bound her hands and ransacked the house, stealing what is believed to be a few hundred pounds.
1.1Search through (a place or receptacle) to find something, especially in such a way as to cause disorder and damage: Hollywood ransacks the New York stage for actors
More example sentences
  • Police would come and search private houses of the members and ransack the whole lot.
  • They ransacked the house searching for a gun for almost 12 hours but it was not found.
  • They were ordered not to move or speak for an hour while the riot squad searched and often ransacked their rooms.



Pronunciation: /ˈranˌsakər/
Example sentences
  • Seven nuclear facilities have been damaged or effectively destroyed by ransackers since the end of the war last month.
  • The looting started with thousands in the morning, but by noon the number of civilian ransackers had slimmed down to a few hundred.
  • The ransackers were eager to find out what their supposed friends had said about them - but also to remove the evidence of their own activities as informers.


Middle English: from Old Norse rannsaka, from rann 'house' + a second element related to sœkja 'seek'.

  • This is a word which is still very close in meaning to its original 14th-century sense. The Old Norse word rannsaka from which it comes, made up of rann ‘house’ and a second element related to ‘seek’, was a legal term referring to the searching of property for stolen goods. See also ramshackle

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: ran·sack

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