English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I was beach combing the other day and I wanted to know a word for

"to remain to examine what others have passed up."

This happens in beach combing when you are following your fellow companion and are moving slower, searching for what they might have missed.

share|improve this question
You could say that you were umpernating—maintaining a gap between two members of a comb. – coleopterist Mar 13 '13 at 15:33
The verb form of tchrist's words (all good for your meaning): scavange, scrounge, forage. And my favorite: "garbage pick". – Kristina Lopez Mar 13 '13 at 17:57
up vote 2 down vote accepted

The word glean comes to mind.

to gather grain or other produce left by reapers,
to pick over in search of relevant material (gleaning old files for information).

share|improve this answer
I'd like it more if it the second definition included "what others passed up". I think that 'glean' is the most any single English word can do to cover it. – Camebridge Mar 14 '13 at 0:58
I agree with Peter Shor. Glean is an appropriate word. The concept of gleaning, as applied to gatherers of grain, is at least as old as the Old Testament commandment, "Nor shall you glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger. I am the LORD your God" (Leviticus 19:10 NAS). – rhetorician Mar 14 '13 at 1:21

Apart from beachcomber there is garbologist, as nouns, and fossick is the best I can think of as a verb. A forensic pathologist or an archaeologist examine what has been left behind or passed through or thrown up, down or away. Excavation, examination and scrutiny all have aspects (and verbs).

But in terms of what others have left behind/passed up in terms of other scavengers, rather than the original leavers/owners, the best I can come up with is reexamine, rescrutinize or refilter, or repass - often we make multiple filtering passes

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.