Share this entry

ransack Syllabification: ran·sack
Pronunciation: /ˈranˌsak/

Definition of ransack in English:


[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.


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



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.

Words that rhyme with ransack

knapsack • Barsac • Cossack

Definition of ransack in:

Share this entry


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources

Word of the day confidant
Pronunciation: ˈkänfəˌdant
a person with whom one shares a secret...