Definition of scavenge in English:



  • 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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘White looked at the town, sprawled at the Academy's feet, and saw that the buildings were constructed of scrap scavenged from the great wreck.’
    • ‘There appeared to be little hope of scavenging anything from the wreckage.’
    • ‘They are surviving on scraps, trying to find anything they can scavenge from the dirt to eat or to sell.’
    • ‘Fuel and tankers became so scarce in the spring of 1942 that oil was scavenged from the unsalvageable battleships still resting on the bottom of Battleship Row.’
    • ‘Looters also made a comeback, making forays into a presidential palace to scavenge whatever was left behind from earlier bouts of looting.’
    • ‘Our only backup unit has been scavenged for parts since our budget was slashed last year.’
    • ‘At the rubbish dump, adults and children scavenged for any items which might be recycled or sold.’
    • ‘They had been in fear of their lives as they scavenged for food while the authorities operated a shoot-to-kill policy against looters.’
    • ‘Her sculptures are made of recycled, printed tin often incorporating household articles scavenged from junk yards.’
    • ‘For more than a year he lived rough in woodland and scavenged for food.’
    • ‘Hoses were scavenged from wrecked buildings and appropriated from whole ones.’
    • ‘Some units made free-standing cold-water showers with five-gallon jugs inverted over wood platforms that had been scavenged from shipping pallets.’
    • ‘Let's go to my house, and see if we can scavenge anything.’
    • ‘With cardboard tubes scavenged from fabric stores, the group believes it has happened upon a lighter way to a fake car.’
    • ‘They are written in pencil on earlier paper types, apparently scavenged from previous works.’
    • ‘The players scavenged driftwood and even raided a timber yard at night for materials, while 74 tip-up seats were donated by the local cinema.’
    • ‘At least 105 people have been killed after a gas pipeline exploded as they scavenged leaking fuel.’
    • ‘In 2001, the Arbor was our first attempt to build a beautiful small building with no money, no power tools, using materials scavenged in my neighborhood.’
    • ‘So they're out scavenging metal from any place, from heaps of old vehicles.’
    rummage, search, hunt, look, forage, root about, root around, scratch about, scratch around, grub about, grub around
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    1. 1.1(of an animal) search for (carrion) as food.
      ‘the feral cat preferred to scavenge carrion from the forest floor’
      [no object] ‘bears and wolves scavenged for carcasses’
      • ‘Thus they had to acquire their meat largely by scavenging the kills of other animals.’
      • ‘There's probably some animal scavenging on bodies at sea and it's going to be very difficult to get those bodies back.’
      • ‘In the Flood model, the observation of shark remains among dinosaurs would not be considered unusual, since one would expect that sharks would scavenge floating dinosaurs.’
      • ‘Nearly all mouth and tail, the gulper eel also scavenges in the depths.’
      • ‘The clam worm, which scavenges food, may not require jaws as hard as those of the bloodworm, which thrusts its jaws into prey to inject venom.’
      • ‘Unlike the wolves the coyotes preferred to scavenge the dead carcasses left behind by others.’
      • ‘They are carnivorous, scavenging among carrion or preying on other molluscs.’
      • ‘Another is that cats don't scavenge, so the only time that they could be baited is when they are ‘doing it tough, like right now‘.’
      • ‘Feral cats mostly scavenge and hunt rodents; that the real enemies of wild bird populations are habitat fragmentation and pesticide use.’
      • ‘Most unclean of all are those animals who are fed on refuse scraps, human or animal excrement, or who scavenge dead animals.’
      • ‘Like vultures scavenging for the last morsel of meat from the carcass, they descended on anyone who looked like they might know something.’
      • ‘The proximity of vertebrate fossils to the crab fossils suggests that they may also have scavenged vertebrate carcasses.’
      • ‘The blackcap basslet, a relative of the large species of groupers, uses its bulging eyes to find food while it scavenges on the coral reef.’
      • ‘It was scavenging for food, eating any hapless tiny creatures it came upon.’
      • ‘A related species, the burrowing bettong, will scavenge sheep carcasses.’
      • ‘They'd rather scavenge dead animals than try to bring down something that might fight back.’
      • ‘It preys on fish, squid, and crustaceans and also scavenges.’
      • ‘Once having learnt to scavenge carcasses, the classic piranha feeding behaviour could have followed soon after.’
      • ‘Fish will scavenge for insects and plant life in the pond but will also benefit from an occasional feeding of fish food.’
    2. 1.2Search for discarded items or food in (a place)
      ‘the mink is still commonly seen scavenging the beaches of California’
      • ‘Expeditions would scavenge the desolate landscape for precious supplies, such as fuel and water.’
      • ‘Poor children helped to support their families by scavenging city streets for food, fuel, and usable materials.’
      • ‘Billy helped her scavenge dumps and junkyards for the motors and wheels and other detritus that would compose her giant vehicle.’
      • ‘It's amazing what can be found if you scavenge around small wooded areas.’
      • ‘The two tiny tattered figures were familiar sights on the streets below, begging for coins and scavenging the bins.’
      • ‘Raptors, buzzards among them, swirled, checked and glided above Ivy Scar, then eased over the valley to hunt and scavenge the stone-walled fields.’
      • ‘Even after the site was scavenged by locals, tons of debris and some sections of the lower-story sandstone walls remained above ground.’
      • ‘This knowledge makes the idea of Victor Frankenstein scavenging graveyards for parts seem less shocking.’
  • 2Remove (combustion products) from an internal combustion engine cylinder on the return stroke of the piston.

    ‘solid lead deposits of combustion would be scavenged from the engine’
  • 3Chemistry
    Combine with and remove (molecules, groups, etc.) from a particular medium.

    ‘chlorine molecules can scavenge ozone at a very fast rate’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Their analysis also found that B. anthracis has an enhanced capacity to scavenge iron, which it may use to survive in its host.’
    • ‘The thiol group of s-nitrosothiol essentially protects nitric oxide from being scavenged by the binding site on heme.’
    • ‘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.