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From Middle English ransaken, from Old Norse rannsakka, from rann (house) + saka (search); probably influenced by sack


ransack (third-person singular simple present ransacks, present participle ransacking, simple past and past participle ransacked)

  1. (transitive) To loot or pillage. See also sack.
    • Shakespeare
      Their vow is made / To ransack Troy.
  2. (transitive) To make a vigorous and thorough search of (a place, person) with a view to stealing something, especially when leaving behind a state of disarray.
    to ransack a house for valuables
    • South
      to ransack every corner of their [] hearts
  3. (archaic) To examine carefully; to investigate.
    • 1485, Sir Thomas Malory, Le Morte d'Arthur, Vol. II, Book XIII:
      Than com there an olde monke whych somtyme had bene a knyght, and behylde Sir Melyas; and anone he ransaked hym, and than he seyde unto Sir Galahad, ‘I shall heale hym of hys play, by the grace of God, within the terme of seven wykes.’
  4. To violate; to ravish; to deflower.
    • Spenser
      Rich spoil of ransacked chastity.