Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To ransack; plunder.
  • intransitive verb To engage in plundering.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To prey upon, either by consumption or destruction, or by plunder and pillage; despoil; lay waste.
  • To take plunder or prey; commit waste: as, wild animals depredate upon the corn; thieves have depredated on my property.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To subject to plunder and pillage; to despoil; to lay waste; to prey upon.
  • intransitive verb To take plunder or prey; to commit waste.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb transitive to ransack or plunder
  • verb intransitive to engage in plundering

Etymologies

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

[Late Latin dēpraedārī, dēpraedāt- : Latin dē-, de- + Latin praedārī, to plunder (from praeda, booty; see ghend- in Indo-European roots).]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Late Latin depraedari, depraedat-  : Latin de- + Latin praedari, to plunder

Examples

  • My dictionary gives the meaning of "depredate" as "to plunder or lay waste to", something Vikings would do, but not snails.

    This just in: authors prey on careless copy editor!

  • By degrees the dwellings became filled with a loose and lawless population; contrabandistas, who availed themselves of its independent jurisdiction to carry on a wide and daring course of smuggling, and thieves and rogues of all sorts, who made this their place of refuge whence they might depredate upon Granada and its vicinity.

    The Alhambra

  • By degrees the dwellings became filled with a loose and lawless population; contrabandistas, who availed themselves of its independent jurisdiction to carry on a wide and daring course of smuggling, and thieves and rogues of all sorts, who made this their place of refuge whence they might depredate upon Granada and its vicinity.

    The Alhambra

  • Whatever concern may have been felt by either of the belligerent powers lest private armed cruisers or other vessels in the service of one might be fitted out in the ports of this country to depredate on the property of the other, all such fears have proved to be utterly groundless.

    State of the Union Address (1790-2001)

  • By degrees the dwellings became filled up with a loose and lawless population; contrabandistas, who availed themselves of its independent jurisdiction to carry on a wide and daring course of smuggling, and thieves and rogues of all sorts, who made this their place of refuge from whence they might depredate upon Granada and its vicinity.

    The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction Volume 19, No. 549 (Supplementary number)

  • Continuing, he charged the general with inciting his employés to depredate on the fences and fields.

    Donahoe's Magazine, Volume 15, No. 2, February 1886

  • The men themselves are strong, able-bodied workers, and I shall miss them; but once having begun to depredate upon me, nothing will stop them.

    A Woman Rice Planter

  • Of course hungry and half-starved squirrels will depredate, -- on birds 'nests, fruit and gardens.

    The Minds and Manners of Wild Animals A Book of Personal Observations

  • Finding little to eat in the bleak, snow-drifted woods, it soon began to depredate on the moose, and killed two or three, generally by lying in wait and dashing out on them as they passed near its lurking-place.

    Hunting the Grisly and Other Sketches

  • Whatever concern may have been felt by either of the belligerent powers lest private armed cruisers or other vessels in the service of one might be fitted out in the ports of this country to depredate on the property of the other, all such fears have proved to be utterly groundless.

    A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents Volume 5, part 3: Franklin Pierce

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