rummage Meaning, Definition & Usage

  1. noun a jumble of things to be given away
  2. noun a thorough search for something (often causing disorder or confusion)
    • he gave the attic a good rummage but couldn't find his skis
  3. verb search haphazardly
    • We rummaged through the drawers


Rum"mage noun
For roomage, fr. room; hence originally, a making room, a packing away closely. See Room.
  1. (Naut.) A place or room for the stowage of cargo in a ship; also, the act of stowing cargo; the pulling and moving about of packages incident to close stowage; -- formerly written romage. Obs.
  2. A searching carefully by looking into every corner, and by turning things over.
    He has such a general rummage and reform in the office of matrimony. Walpole.
Rum"mage transitive verb
imperfect & past participle Rummaged ; present participle & verbal noun Rummaging
  1. (Naut.) To make room in, as a ship, for the cargo; to move about, as packages, ballast, so as to permit close stowage; to stow closely; to pack; -- formerly written roomage, and romage. Obs.
    They night bring away a great deal more than they do, if they would take pain in the romaging. Hakluyt.
  2. To search or examine thoroughly by looking into every corner, and turning over or removing goods or other things; to examine, as a book, carefully, turning over leaf after leaf.
    He . . . searcheth his pockets, and taketh his keys, and so rummageth all his closets and trunks. Howell.
    What schoolboy of us has not rummaged his Greek dictionary in vain for a satisfactory account! M. Arnold.
Rum"mage intransitive verb
  1. To search a place narrowly.
    I have often rummaged for old books in Little Britain and Duck Lane. Swift.
    [His house] was haunted with a jolly ghost, that . . . . . . rummaged like a rat. Tennyson.

Webster 1913