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I'm looking for a word to describe someone who builds new inventions from technological scraps. I'm a writer, and it's for a cocky post-apocalyptic pirate who steals/raids and looks for bits and pieces of old technology and then builds completely new devices from them.

Words like tinkerer, scavenger, inventor, and raider were close, but not quite right because the there's a level of skill that tinkerer doesn't imply, an aspect of going off of past inventions and transforming them that inventor doesn't include, a fierceness that scavenger lacks, and a mechanical/technological knowledge raider doesn't have.

I feel like this word exists but I just can't remember it. It is also going to be the running name of this pirate if I can find the word.

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  • There's a German chap who makes YouTube videos and calls himself "The Post-Apocalyptic Inventor". But that's two or three words, not a single word for this technological scarab. Jan 30, 2023 at 4:13
  • In evolution this is called "exaptation" -- using an existing feature of an organism for a new purpose. I don't this is normally applied to humans doing this purposely.
    – Barmar
    Jan 30, 2023 at 23:55
  • Even Wiktionary doesn't list the agent noun 'cannibaliser', but the verb is used. But to make another X from previous bits of X's. Jan 31, 2023 at 17:25
  • I'd look into "repurposer." I don't see it in dictionaries, but you'll find it with a search in Google Books and it appears to be used for people who repurpose things in general and particularly in post-apocalyptic fiction. Your character could be called Repurp :)
    – DjinTonic
    Feb 1, 2023 at 17:44

2 Answers 2

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Plunderer

Plunder: intransitive verb

steal (goods), typically using force and in a time of disorder: the contents of the abandoned houses were plundered by members of the new regime.

take material from (artistic or academic work) for one's own purposes: we shall plunder related sciences to assist our research.

The first definition implies the fierceness and the second definition implies the science. The word you're looking for might also be plagiarist.

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    YES, plunder is the verb I was thinking off! I'm not sure how it works as a like noun for my character cause of the difficulty in pronunciation, but this was the verb I was thinking of! Feb 1, 2023 at 19:27
  • I'm glad I could help. I think Plunder would make a fine name. Feb 1, 2023 at 19:39
  • Also, if you could hit the checkbox to mark my answer as the one that answered your question I'd appreciate it. Feb 1, 2023 at 19:40
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Salvager: From Merriam Webster:

Salvage 2b: "something extracted (as from rubbish) as valuable or useful"

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/salvage

So a salvager would be someone who engages in salvage work.

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