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

Other Words from burglary

burglarious \ ˌbər-​ˈgler-​ē-​əs How to pronounce burglary (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 Schierbaum, officers were met with gunfire while investigating the burglary call at A Ma Maniére, a menswear boutique that specializes in high-end sneakers. Chelsea Prince, ajc, 5 May 2022 Hawkins, 26, of Cleveland, pleaded guilty to murder and aggravated burglary charges. Cory Shaffer, cleveland, 27 Apr. 2022 While this is the first alleged burglary attempt recorded by the Metropolitan Republicans, the storied clubhouse has been the backdrop of multiple crime scenes over the past few years. Sara Ballou | Fox News, Fox News, 26 Apr. 2022 Marx returned to the theater the next day to ask for his burglary tools back and broke in again two days later, Burke said. Heather Knight, San Francisco Chronicle, 23 Apr. 2022 Deputy District Attorney Victor Avila told the judge that Maynor reportedly shot himself in the foot at a different home during another alleged burglary attempt in the Hollywood Hills neighborhood. Okla Jones, Essence, 19 Apr. 2022 And he was given a 12-year sentence for a residential burglary case dating to 2011. Megan Crepeau, chicagotribune.com, 25 Mar. 2022 Authorities are asking for the public’s help in identifying two burglary suspects. Carol Robinson | Crobinson@al.com, al, 11 Mar. 2022 Kirby-Glatkowski was nearby with his partner searching for a serial burglary suspect when he was dispatched to help after the first responders realized the mother had walked away covered in blood. oregonlive, 10 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of burglary

circa 1523, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for burglary

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The first known use of burglary was circa 1523

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Statistics for burglary

Last Updated

15 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Burglary.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/burglary. Accessed 19 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for burglary


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 burglary (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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