Definition of ransack in English:



  • 1 Go hurriedly through (a place) stealing things and causing damage.

    ‘burglars ransacked her home’
    • ‘He allegedly then ransacked the house, stole a gun from a safe, and fled in the homeowner's vehicle.’
    • ‘When police failed to catch the burglar who ransacked her dying mum's home, Georgina Artingstall decided she would solve the case herself.’
    • ‘They smashed the windowpanes of the cinema, damaged the furniture and ransacked the canteen.’
    • ‘The thieves ransacked the living room but only stole a small amount of jewellery.’
    • ‘The gunmen realized that in order to look for the money, they would have to ransack the whole place and kill to get everyone of the way.’
    • ‘Burglars ransacked the house, taking £1,000 of jewellery, silver and china and the family heirlooms.’
    • ‘The thieving wine connoisseurs then ransacked the house, stealing laptops, wallets and jewellery.’
    • ‘Four months later, on the night of her 83rd birthday, burglars ransacked her bedroom as she slept heavily after taking a sleeping tablet.’
    • ‘Thieves had ransacked class seven, stealing exercise books belonging to Year Five children age 10.’
    • ‘Immediately asking for money, he forces them into their mansion and ransacks the place.’
    • ‘‘When he went back into his home, he found that two rooms had been ransacked and the cash stolen,’ he said.’
    • ‘They saw a bunch of thieves ransacking the place.’
    • ‘The defence claimed her aunt was viciously beaten by a burglar who ransacked the house.’
    • ‘It's unusual for someone to strike like this during the day and to ransack the place in such a disturbing way.’
    • ‘The owner of a mail order lingerie business which was ransacked by burglars has spoken of her disgust at the intruders.’
    • ‘However, it didn't seem like they were ransacking the place.’
    • ‘Then he bound her hands and ransacked the house, stealing what is believed to be a few hundred pounds.’
    • ‘The three friends were then locked in a bathroom while the gang ransacked the flat, stealing mobile phones and other items.’
    • ‘The place was ransacked and the papers boxed up and stolen.’
    • ‘York war veteran Joe Munday today spoke of his anger towards thieves who ransacked his house and stole his prized medals.’
    plunder, pillage, steal from, raid, rob, loot, rifle, sack, strip, denude
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Search through (a place or receptacle) to find something, especially in such a way as to cause disorder and damage.
      ‘Hollywood ransacks the New York stage for actors’
      • ‘The soldiers dismount and secure the area and with little warning, kick in the door, roust the residents out of the house, and search and ransack the home.’
      • ‘If you need flowers or a bouquet the next time, you don't need to ransack your cupboard to search for the misplaced telephone index or that huge telephone directory to search for a bouquet shop phone number.’
      • ‘The police spent an hour combing the residence, probing the floor and compound and ransacking the wardrobes.’
      • ‘The judge isn't going to ransack the prosecutor's file drawers and hand over to the defense copies of all the evidence the judge thinks is exculpatory.’
      • ‘He begins to ransack the apartment, searching through drawers and cabinets.’
      • ‘He is forced to sign a ‘Permission for Search’ which allows Ford detectives to ransack his home.’
      • ‘Now, he's slashing capital expenditures and ransacking his portfolio for bits and pieces to sell, all to bring down debt.’
      • ‘They ransacked the house searching for a gun for almost 12 hours but it was not found.’
      • ‘Sadly, pathetically, while he was hospitalised his neat single storey home was broken into and ransacked in an obvious search for money.’
      • ‘The rogues ransack the place in search of a treasure map, carting the women, including feisty Violet Miranda, onto a ship run by the dastardly but suave Captain Calico Jack.’
      • ‘Police would come and search private houses of the members and ransack the whole lot.’
      • ‘I then ransacked the studio for a cardboard box that I could turn into a cigarette box and happily, my prayers were answered in the shape of an empty box of A4 paper.’
      • ‘They were ordered not to move or speak for an hour while the riot squad searched and often ransacked their rooms.’
      • ‘Reuters filmed houses with their doors smashed in and ransacked by US troops as they searched for weapons.’


Middle English: from Old Norse rannsaka, from rann house + a second element related to sœkja seek.