To pillage is a term of war that means to take everything of value from a place that you've conquered, but these days, pillage can be used to talk about anyone who takes what's not theirs.

It wasn't enough just to win a battle. A conquering army had to pillage entire cities, taking everything of value that wasn't nailed down. Recently, several European families have won cases in international courts against museums displaying art that was looted by the Nazis during World War II. These families claim that the art was pillaged during the war and that, rather than being displayed on museum walls, it should be returned to its rightful owners.

Definitions of pillage

v steal goods; take as spoils

despoil, foray, loot, plunder, ransack, reave, rifle, strip
deplume, displume
strip of honors, possessions, or attributes
Type of:
take by force

n the act of stealing valuable things from a place

pillaging, plundering
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the practice of plundering in gangs
rape, rapine
the act of despoiling a country in warfare
looting, robbery
plundering during riots or in wartime
despoilation, despoilment, despoliation, spoil, spoilation, spoliation
the act of stripping and taking by force
devastation, ravaging
plundering with excessive damage and destruction
depredation, predation
an act of plundering and pillaging and marauding
the plundering of a place by an army or mob; usually involves destruction and slaughter
Type of:
aggression, hostility
violent action that is hostile and usually unprovoked

n goods or money obtained illegally

booty, dirty money, loot, plunder, prize, swag
Type of:
stolen property
property that has been stolen

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