bur·​glary | \ ˈbər-glə-rē How to pronounce burglary (audio) also -gə-lə-rē also -gəl-rē \
plural burglaries

Definition of burglary

: the act of breaking and entering a dwelling at night to commit a felony (such as theft) broadly : the entering of a building with the intent to commit a crime

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Other Words from burglary

burglarious \ ˌbər-​ˈgler-​ē-​əs How to pronounce burglarious (audio) \ adjective
burglariously adverb

Frequently Asked Questions About burglary

Is there a difference between burglarize and rob?

To burglarize is "to break into and enter of a building with the intent to commit a crime, often theft," whereas rob means " to take personal property from by violence or threat." Burglary need not entail violence or threat, and robbery need not entail breaking into a dwelling.

Is the verb form of burglary, burgle or burglarize?

The verb form of burglary can be either burglarize or burgle. "Burglarize," like many verb forms, is made by adding the suffix -ize, and this form is more common in American English. Burgle is a back-formation (a word formed by subtraction of a real or supposed affix from an already existing longer word), and is more common in British English. Both are widely accepted as correct.

Is burglarized a real word?

Yes, it is, and so is burgle. While both variants of the verb, burgle and burglarize, have been disparaged since they entered the language in the middle of the 19th century, both are real words, and both have come to be widely accepted.

Examples of burglary in a Sentence

There have been a number of burglaries in the neighborhood in recent months. He has been charged with attempted burglary.
Recent Examples on the Web According to police, the incident began around 6 p.m., when officers responded to a report of a burglary in progress in the 1000 block of Groff Avenue on the city's west side. Lawrence Andrea, The Indianapolis Star, "IMPD: Motorist, pedestrian injured after police chase burglary suspects," 20 Nov. 2020 The two young men, who are also suspects in a Nov. 11 car burglary in the 1400 block of Gardena Drive in Gentilly, then flee in the nearby car, the video shows. Ramon Antonio Vargas | Staff Writer, NOLA.com, "Watch: Motorist gassing up in New Orleans fights off robbery attempt by pair of young men," 17 Nov. 2020 Kenney and Dustin Joseph, who were responding to a call about a burglary in the neighborhood, shone a spotlight on the men. Shane Bauer, The New Yorker, "How a Deadly Police Force Ruled a City," 16 Nov. 2020 According to information from the Sheriff’s Office, deputies were called to 10671 Rocky Creek Road around 11:15 p.m. on a call of a burglary in progress. Arkansas Online, "Fayetteville murder suspect arrested after foot chase, weapons found covered in blood," 13 Nov. 2020 Felipe Vazquez Reyna, 27, of the first block of Echo Court, Vernon Hills, was charged Oct. 25 with residential burglary in the 2000 block of Center Avenue. Kaitlin Edquist, chicagotribune.com, "Blotter: Wheaton man charged with reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident in Northbrook," 30 Oct. 2020 The call was changed to a burglary-in-progress shortly after. Jeanne Houck, The Enquirer, "Lexington woman accused of driving stolen car jailed after West Side police chase," 3 Oct. 2020 The first was in 1989, when he was convicted of first-degree burglary in San Bernardino County and was sentenced to six years. Jessica Miller, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Man who drew bow and arrow on Salt Lake City protesters pleads guilty," 28 Sep. 2020 Wegener also claimed the gun was stolen during a 2017 burglary in Las Vegas. Jordan Freiman, CBS News, "Attorneys for family of Dijon Kizzee say he tried to surrender before LA deputies fatally shot him," 22 Sep. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'burglary.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of burglary

circa 1523, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for burglary

Time Traveler

The first known use of burglary was circa 1523

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Statistics for burglary

Last Updated

22 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Burglary.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/burglary. Accessed 30 Nov. 2020.

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More Definitions for burglary


How to pronounce burglary (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of burglary

: the act of illegally entering a building in order to steal things


bur·​glary | \ ˈbər-glə-rē How to pronounce burglary (audio) \
plural burglaries

Kids Definition of burglary

: the act of breaking into a building especially at night with the intent to commit a crime (as theft)


bur·​glary | \ ˈbər-glə-rē How to pronounce burglary (audio) \
plural burglaries

Legal Definition of burglary

: the act of breaking and entering an inhabited structure (as a house) especially at night with intent to commit a felony (as murder or larceny) also : the act of entering or remaining unlawfully (as after closing to the public) in a building with intent to commit a crime (as a felony)

Note: The crime of burglary was originally defined under the common law to protect people, since there were other laws (as those defining larceny and trespass) that protected property. State laws have broadened the common-law crime. Entering at night is often no longer required and may be considered an aggravating factor. The building may be something other than a dwelling, such as a store or pharmacy. Some states (as Louisiana) have included vehicles under their burglary statute. There are degrees of burglary, and some of the usual aggravating factors are the presence of people and use of a deadly weapon.

Other Words from burglary

burglarious \ ˌbər-​ˈglar-​ē-​əs How to pronounce burglarious (audio) \ adjective

History and Etymology for burglary

Anglo-French burglarie, modification of Medieval Latin burgaria, from burgare to break into (a house)

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