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pilfer

play
verb pil·fer \ˈpil-fər\

Simple Definition of pilfer

  • : to steal things that are not very valuable or to steal a small amount of something

Full Definition of pilfer

pil·feredpil·fer·ing play \-f(ə-)riŋ\

  1. intransitive verb
  2. :  steal; especially :  to steal stealthily in small amounts and often again and again

  3. transitive verb
  4. :  steal; especially :  to steal in small quantities

pil·fer·able play \-f(ə-)rə-bəl\ adjective
pil·fer·age play \-f(ə-)rij\ noun
pil·fer·er play \-fər-ər\ noun
pil·fer·proof play \-ˌprüf\ adjective

Examples of pilfer

  1. She pilfered stamps and paper from work.

  2. <what sort of person would pilfer lunches from the office refrigerator?>



Origin of pilfer

Middle French pelfrer, from pelfre booty


First Known Use: circa 1548

Synonym Discussion of pilfer

steal, pilfer, filch, purloin mean to take from another without right or without detection. steal may apply to any surreptitious taking of something and differs from the other terms by commonly applying to intangibles as well as material things <steal jewels> <stole a look at the gifts>. pilfer implies stealing repeatedly in small amounts <pilfered from his employer>. filch adds a suggestion of snatching quickly and surreptitiously <filched an apple from the tray>. purloin stresses removing or carrying off for one's own use or purposes <printed a purloined document>.


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