Definition of scavenger in English:


Line breaks: scav|en¦ger
Pronunciation: /ˈskavɪn(d)ʒə


1An animal that feeds on carrion, dead plant material, or refuse: carcasses are usually quickly disposed of by scavengers foxes are great scavengers
More example sentences
  • Experts on the red kite - a spectacular bird with a wingspan of up to 6ft - say it is essentially a scavenger which feeds on carrion rather than attacking sheep or game birds.
  • There were the small herbivores and scavengers and hunters scuttling in the undergrowth, hiding from the larger predators who occasioned down from the heights.
  • The buzz of flies permeated the air and the scavengers of meat fed on the dead.
2A person who searches for and collects discarded items: a reputation as a scavenger of discarded odds and ends
More example sentences
  • Only scavengers came regularly to collect discarded plastic and steel.
  • The charred remains of a body was discovered by scavengers searching for scrap metal yesterday morning.
  • He is a scavenger who collects waste paper.
3 archaic A person employed to clean the streets.
4 Chemistry A substance that reacts with and removes particular molecules, groups, etc. 4-aminosalicylic acid is not an effective free radical scavenger
More example sentences
  • Whenever the antioxidants are present, antioxidant enzyme activity and scavengers of the free radical will be induced to prevent the oxidative damage.
  • Free radical scavengers, however, do not completely prevent the loss of diaphragmatic force associated with delayed injury, indicating that other mechanisms are involved.
  • Low levels of natural antioxidants in pancreatitis indicate their increased utilization as scavengers of free radicals.


mid 16th century: alteration of earlier scavager, from Anglo-Norman French scawager, from Old Northern French escauwer 'inspect', from Flemish scauwen 'to show'. The term originally denoted an officer who collected scavage, a toll on foreign merchants' goods offered for sale in a town, later a person who kept the streets clean.

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