Definition of ransack in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈransak/


[with object]
1Go 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.
ravage, maraud, lay waste, devastate
literary despoil
archaic reave
1.1Search (a place or receptacle) thoroughly, especially in such a way as to cause harm: man has ransacked the planet for fuel
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.
rummage through, hunt through, search (through), rake through, scour, rifle, look all round, go through, comb, scrabble around in, poke around in, rummage around in, hunt around in, explore, turn inside out, turn over



Pronunciation: /ˈransakə/
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

Line breaks: ran|sack

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