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From Middle English ransaken, from Old Norse rannsaka, from rann (house) + saka (search); probably influenced by sack. Compare Danish ransage, Swedish rannsaka.


  • IPA(key): /ˈɹænsæk/
  • (file)
  • Homophone: RANSAC


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.
  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
    • 1692–1717, Robert South, Twelve Sermons Preached upon Several Occasions, 6th edition, volumes (please specify |volume=I to VI), London: [] J[ames] Bettenham, for Jonah Bowyer, [], published 1727, →OCLC:
      to ransack every corner of their [] hearts
  3. (archaic) To examine carefully; to investigate.
    • 1485, Sir Thomas Malory, “xiij”, in Le Morte Darthur, book XIII:
      Thenne came there an olde monke whiche somtyme had ben a knyghte & behelde syre Melyas / And anone he ransakyd hym / & thenne he saide vnto syr Galahad I shal hele hym of this woūde by the grace of god within the terme of seuen wekes
      (please add an English translation of this quotation)
  4. To violate; to ravish; to deflower.



ransack (plural ransacks)

  1. Eager search.
    • 1861, The Eclectic Magazine of Foreign Literature, Science, and Art:
      Perhaps this stone also will turn up in the ransack of the sultan's treasury.