mid-13c., ransaken, "to plunder; to make a search, search thoroughly," from a Scandinavian source akin to Old Norse rannsaka "to pillage," literally "search the house" (especially legally, for stolen goods), from rann "house," from Proto-Germanic *raznan (c.f. Gothic razn, Old English ærn "house;" Old English rægn "a plank, ceiling;" see barn) + saka "to search," related to Old Norse soekja "seek" (see seek). Properly it would have evolved as *ransake; the present form perhaps was influenced by sack (v.1). Related: Ransacked; ransacking.
updated on April 15, 2021