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Borrowed from Anglo-Norman, from Old French ravis-, present participle stem of ravir (to seize; to take away hastily), from Vulgar Latin *rapire, from Latin rapere. See also rape.



ravish (third-person singular simple present ravishes, present participle ravishing, simple past and past participle ravished)

  1. (obsolete or archaic) To seize and carry away by violence; to snatch by force.
    • 1862, H. L. Hastings, Pauline Theology[1], page 61:
      Again, he refers to "such ministers as discharge their ministry amiss; ravishing away the goods of the widows and fatherless; and serve themselves, not others out of those things which they have received.
    • 1901, Thomas Henry Dyer, A History of Modern Europe from the Fall of Constantinople: 1789-1815[2]:
      The French Government had not taken regular possession of it when the war with England broke out; and Bonaparte hastened to sell that Province to the Americans, who had already cast their eyes upon it, with the view both of preventing the English from ravishing it from him, and of procuring funds to carry on the war.
    • 2015, Alfred J. Andrea, The Human Record: Sources of Global History, Volume I: To 1500[3]:
      The Franks ravished it from Muslim hands in the first decade of the sixth century, and the eyes of Islam were swollen with weeping for it; it was one of its griefs.
  2. (transitive, usually passive) To transport with joy or delight; to delight to ecstasy.
    • 1669, Henry Earl of Monmouth, Advertisements from Parnassus: In Two Centuries[4], translation of original by Trafano Bocalini:
      That in things that do ravish with delight, men were not Masters of themselves, nor could they remember Gallateo's Rules; and that in time of Carnival, it was lawful to commit exorbitances.
    • 1768, John Gill, An exposition of the book of Solomon's Song[5]:
      [] and whilst he is observing how beautifully they are adorned therewith, his heart is ravished with them.
    • 1873, Jules Verne, chapter 9, in Around the World in 80 Days[6]:
      Passepartout was ravished to behold this celebrated place, and thought that, with its circular walls and dismantled fort, it looked like an immense coffee-cup and saucer.
    • 2015, Anna Harrington, Dukes Are Forever:
      He tore at the pins in her hair to set her waves free so he could fist the fiery curls in his hand and hold her lips tight and still beneath his, relentlessly ravishing her kiss the same way he planned on ravishing her body.
  3. (transitive, now rare) To rape.
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, III.x:
      For loe that Guest would beare her forcibly, / And meant to ravish her, that rather had to dy.
    • 1655, Philip Sidney, The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia[7]:
      hee ravished her, and ravished her that was an Amazon, and therefore had gotten a habit of stoutness above the nature of a woman; but having ravished her, he got a childe of her.
    • 1759, Voltaire, chapter 8, in Candide[8]:
      A tall Bulgarian soldier, six feet high, perceiving that I had fainted away at this sight, attempted to ravish me; the operation brought me to my senses. I cried, I struggled, I bit, I scratched, I would have torn the tall Bulgarian’s eyes out, not knowing that what had happened at my father’s castle was a customary thing.


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