Definition of scavenge in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈskavənj/


[with object]
1Search for and collect (anything usable) from discarded waste: people sell junk scavenged from the garbage [no object]: the city dump where the squatters scavenge to survive
More example sentences
  • Many might not realize that plates on which their food is served in restaurants could be made from plastic waste scavenged from the city's streets.
  • Hoses were scavenged from wrecked buildings and appropriated from whole ones.
  • Our only backup unit has been scavenged for parts since our budget was slashed last year.
forage, rummage, search, hunt, look, root around/about, grub around/about
1.1(Of an animal) search for (carrion) as food.
Example sentences
  • Most unclean of all are those animals who are fed on refuse scraps, human or animal excrement, or who scavenge dead animals.
  • They are carnivorous, scavenging among carrion or preying on other molluscs.
  • Fish will scavenge for insects and plant life in the pond but will also benefit from an occasional feeding of fish food.
1.2Search for discarded items or food in (a place): the mink is still commonly seen scavenging the beaches of California
More example sentences
  • Expeditions would scavenge the desolate landscape for precious supplies, such as fuel and water.
  • This knowledge makes the idea of Victor Frankenstein scavenging graveyards for parts seem less shocking.
  • Even after the site was scavenged by locals, tons of debris and some sections of the lower-story sandstone walls remained above ground.
1.3Remove (combustion products) from the cylinder of an internal combustion engine on the return stroke of the piston.
1.4 Chemistry Combine with and remove (molecules, groups, etc.) from a particular medium: chlorine molecules can scavenge ozone at a very fast rate
More example sentences
  • Melatonin also scavenges free radicals, and having low levels of this hormone has been linked to Alzheimer's disease.
  • They are compounds that scavenge free radicals of oxygen, unstable molecules given off by the body's many metabolic actions.
  • The administration of superoxide dismutase to scavenge superoxide anions was found to promote the survival rate of transplanted skin flaps.


Mid 17th century (in the sense 'clean out (dirt)'): back-formation from scavenger.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: scav·enge

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