1. An animal, such as a vulture or housefly, that feeds on dead or decaying matter.
2. One that scavenges, as a person who searches through refuse for useful items.
3. Chemistry A substance added to a mixture to remove or inactivate impurities.
[Alteration of Middle English scauager, schavager, official charged with street maintenance, from Anglo-Norman scawager, toll collector, from scawage, a tax on the goods of foreign merchants, from Flemish scauwen, to look at, show.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.