Meaning of scavenger in English:



  • 1An animal that feeds on carrion, dead plant material, or refuse.

    ‘carcasses are usually quickly disposed of by scavengers’
    ‘foxes are great scavengers’
    • ‘Experts on the red kite - a spectacular bird with a wingspan of up to 6ft - say it is essentially a scavenger which feeds on carrion rather than attacking sheep or game birds.’
    • ‘There were the small herbivores and scavengers and hunters scuttling in the undergrowth, hiding from the larger predators who occasioned down from the heights.’
    • ‘The buzz of flies permeated the air and the scavengers of meat fed on the dead.’
    • ‘The destruction of nests discourages infestations by dermestid beetles and other insect scavengers which could move to other household items.’
    • ‘Introducing water plants and scavengers such as water snails and tadpoles into a pond is an easier and less expensive solution.’
    • ‘In ancient times this was done by carrying the body to a high hilltop, leaving it bare for nature's scavengers to feed on.’
    • ‘It is pointless to note that incisions to a carcass by the teeth of predators or scavengers often resemble knife cuts.’
    • ‘I was intrigued by the passage of time and the parade of scavengers, including bears, that reduced a giant among animals to scattered bones and a grease slick.’
    • ‘Vultures will be replaced by less favoured scavengers like rats and dogs.’
    • ‘The saltwater crocodile is carnivorous and a scavenger.’
    • ‘The fact that many crustaceans, being omnivorous, may act as scavengers and eat the corpses of fellow aquatic creatures need not be a deterrent.’
    • ‘Land crabs are nocturnal scavengers that climb trees, enter holes and are the invertebrate ecological equivalent of rats.’
    • ‘The omnivorous scavengers could find food sources virtually anywhere and could survive without human care in the proper environment.’
    • ‘Some are scavengers - hagfish, crustaceans, sharks - which devour much of the whale's flesh and tissue over the course of a few months.’
    • ‘When the bison slaughter rose to its height, wolves and other scavengers thrived on the availability of carrion, and wolf numbers probably spiked briefly.’
    • ‘Primarily a carnivore the wolverine captures most of its prey, though it is also an extensive scavenger, eating quantities of carrion.’
    • ‘Carcasses left by wolves supply food for scavengers such as ravens, eagles, magpies, and wolverines.’
    • ‘This lizard is a fierce predator and scavenger, and is thought to have caused human fatalities.’
    • ‘Their island-home always seemed to be inhabited by great black birds - ravens, crows, scavengers of all sorts.’
    • ‘The word dogs is a strong insult in the Mediterranean world since dogs are generally regarded as scavengers.’
  • 2A person who searches for and collects discarded items.

    ‘a reputation as a scavenger of discarded odds and ends’
    • ‘Only scavengers came regularly to collect discarded plastic and steel.’
    • ‘The charred remains of a body was discovered by scavengers searching for scrap metal yesterday morning.’
    • ‘He is a scavenger who collects waste paper.’
    • ‘Each scavenger could collect about 14 kilograms of plastic waste per day.’
    • ‘Although the scavengers could also collect organic trash that can be transformed into organic fertilizer, most of them are loath to touch the putrifying garbage.’
    • ‘All that is left is a grim arena where matter is collected by scavengers and transformed into useful merchandise.’
    • ‘According to Alamsyah, most of the squatters in the area work as garbage men, scavengers and do other odd jobs.’
    • ‘Peddlers also performed an ecological function as consummate street scavengers, collectors, and recycling artists.’
    • ‘Immediately she got involved with the scavengers and asked them to collect specific items like cellophane wrappers that cannot be recycled.’
    • ‘Before the stallholders could even open the boot, scavengers were on the back seat searching for tarnished gold.’
    • ‘In this picture, an Indonesian scavenger takes a break from collecting plastic from garbage clogging a Jakarta canal.’
    • ‘Scrap firms sometimes employed peddlers and scavengers, but they more frequently relied solely on the skills of the owner to sort and evaluate scrap from refuse.’
    • ‘Telephone and electric lines drooped in useless loops from poles and then disappeared entirely where scavengers had picked them clean.’
    • ‘To this end the city directed its scavengers to deliver ‘clean’ garbage free of rotting vegetable matter to the site.’
    • ‘Metal scavengers dismantled 155 mm artillery rounds, spreading gun powder on the ground at the depot, which housed old artillery.’
    • ‘There are still one million people working as manual scavengers all over India.’
    scavenger, scrounger, forager, gatherer, collector, accumulator
  • 3archaic A person employed to clean the streets.

  • 4Chemistry
    A substance that reacts with and removes particular molecules, groups, etc.

    ‘4-aminosalicylic acid is not an effective free radical scavenger’
    • ‘Whenever the antioxidants are present, antioxidant enzyme activity and scavengers of the free radical will be induced to prevent the oxidative damage.’
    • ‘Free radical scavengers, however, do not completely prevent the loss of diaphragmatic force associated with delayed injury, indicating that other mechanisms are involved.’
    • ‘Low levels of natural antioxidants in pancreatitis indicate their increased utilization as scavengers of free radicals.’
    • ‘Our study has shown that CDA-II was a good scavenger of hydroxyl radical, and it inhibited lipid peroxidation in brain homogenates.’
    • ‘HDL, or ‘good cholesterol’ acts like a scavenger in the blood looking for harmful cholesterol.’


Mid 16th century alteration of earlier scavager, from Anglo-Norman French scawager, from Old Northern French escauwer ‘inspect’, from Flemish scauwen ‘to show’. The term originally denoted an officer who collected scavage, a toll on foreign merchants' goods offered for sale in a town, later a person who kept the streets clean.