noun1 a : one that scavenges: as b : a garbage collector c : a junk collector 2 : an organism that typically feeds on refuse or carrion
The owners of the new antique shop are ace scavengers whose skills were honed during college trash-picking outings.
“Hunters have long provided wildlife scavengers with free meals.” — From an article by Brett Prettyman in The Salt Lake Tribune, March 26, 2014
Did you know?
You might guess that “scavenger” is a derivative of “scavenge,” but the reverse is actually true; “scavenger” is the older word, first appearing in English in 1530, and the back-formation “scavenge” came into English in the mid-17th century. “Scavenger” is an alteration of the earlier “scavager,” itself from Anglo-French “scawageour,” meaning “collector of scavage.” In medieval times, “scavage” was a tax levied by towns and cities on goods put up for sale by nonresidents, in order to provide resident merchants with a competitive advantage. The officers in charge of collecting this tax were later made responsible for keeping streets clean, and that’s how “scavenger” came to refer to a public sanitation employee in Great Britain before acquiring its more widely used sense referring to a person who salvages discarded items.