verb (used with object)

  1. to search thoroughly or vigorously through (a house, receptacle, etc.): They ransacked the house for the missing letter.
  2. to search through for plunder; pillage: The enemy ransacked the entire town.

verb (tr)

  1. to search through every part of (a house, box, etc); examine thoroughly
  2. to plunder; pillage

mid-13c., from a Scandinavian source akin to Old Norse rannsaka “to pillage,” literally “search the house” (especially legally, for stolen goods), from rann “house,” from Proto-Germanic *rasnan (c.f. Gothic razn, Old English ærn “house;” see barn) + saka “to search,” related to Old Norse soekja “seek” (see seek). Sense influenced by sack (v.). Related: Ransacked; ransacking.

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