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Perhaps from rapacity +‎ -ous, in any case ultimately from Latin rapāx (grasping, greedy).


  • (UK, US) IPA(key): /ɹəˈpeɪ.ʃəs/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -eɪʃəs


rapacious (comparative more rapacious, superlative most rapacious)

  1. (also figurative) Voracious; avaricious.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:greedy
    • 1787, Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 6: Concerning Dangers from Dissensions Between the States:
      To presume a want of motives for such contests [of power between states] as an argument against their existence, would be to forget that men are ambitious, vindictive, and rapacious.
    • 2021 March 16, Noam Cohen, “Wikipedia Is Finally Asking Big Tech to Pay Up”, in Wired[1], →ISSN:
      Big Tech companies, on the other hand, have proven themselves to be rapacious capitalists—they take as much as they can and ask for permission later.
  2. Given to taking by force or plundering; aggressively greedy.
    • 1910, Niccolò Machiavelli, “Chapter XIX”, in Ninian Hill Thomson, transl., The Prince:
      A Prince [] sooner becomes hated by being rapacious and by interfering with the property and with the women of his subjects, than in any other way.
  3. (of an animal, usually a bird) Subsisting off live prey.
    • 1827, James Fenimore Cooper, “Chapter XIII”, in The Prairie:
      Even the rapacious birds appeared to comprehend the nature of the ceremony, for [] they once more began to make their airy circuits above the place []

Usage notes[edit]

  • The use of this term for animals other than birds is dated.

Related terms[edit]