Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • intransitive v. To search for and expose misconduct in public life.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. to search for and expose corruption or scandal especially as done by a journalist.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • A rake for scraping up muck or dung. See muckrake, v. i., below.
  • intransitive v. To seek for, expose, or charge, especially habitually, corruption, real or alleged, on the part of public men and corporations.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A rake for scraping muck or filth. Bunyan, Pilgrim's Progress.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. explore and expose misconduct and scandals concerning public figures

Etymologies

From the man with the muckrake, tool for raking muck, who cannot look up to heaven because he is so obsessed with the muck of worldly profit, in Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
muck + rake (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • Hence Teddy Roosevelt's public comment that spawned the label muckraker and the WordNet meaning above (though it's not phrased particularly well).

    September 21, 2009

  • "A man could look no way but downwards, with a muckrake in his hands."
    John Bunyan (1628-1688), Pilgrim's Progress

    September 20, 2009