bur·​glary | \ˈbər-glə-rē 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 \ adjective
burglariously adverb

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

Online court records indicate Seay was sentenced to five years in prison in 2016 after pleading guilty to charges of second-degree burglary, second-degree domestic assault, tampering with a motor vehicle and resisting arrest. Kaitlyn Schwers, kansascity, "Man ‘running naked’ broke into a home, Missouri cops say, and then he tried again," 12 July 2018 He was convicted of burglary, attempted robbery with serious bodily injury and attempted murder. Will Higgins, Indianapolis Star, "Indianapolis inmate plays role in film but misses premiere. He's still in prison.," 9 July 2018 Belcher, 32, and Forbes were each arrested on charges of burglary of a conveyance and trespassing on school grounds, records show. Jeff Weiner, OrlandoSentinel.com, "While towing suspected burglar's car, deputies make a back-seat discovery: a baby alligator," 9 July 2018 Previously, he was convicted of burglary in Dallas County, aggravated robbery in Travis County, and other assaults in Harris County, according to court records. Keri Blakinger, Houston Chronicle, "Houston man accused of shooting self while fighting deputy in Fiesta Mart bathroom," 6 July 2018 Lauro pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree burglary. Perry Vandell, azcentral, "Two connected to 2016 Surprise double homicide await trial after multistate manhunt," 2 July 2018 Law enforcement in Adams and Brown counties is searching for a suspect in a string of burglaries. Cameron Knight, Cincinnati.com, "Police searching for suspect in string of burglaries known as 'Popeye'," 20 June 2018 Winslow was first taken into custody on June 7 after being accused of burglary at a mobile home, according to the Los Angeles Times. Steve Helling, PEOPLE.com, "Kellen Winslow’s Wife and Father Support Ex-NFL Star After He’s Accused of Raping Women, 59 and 54," 18 June 2018 Winslow was arrested nearby on suspicion of burglary. Michael Mccann, SI.com, "Could Kellen Winslow Jr.'s Attorneys Use Football-Induced Brain Injury as Defense for Alleged Crimes?," 16 June 2018

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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Statistics for burglary

Last Updated

7 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for burglary

The first known use of burglary was circa 1523

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More Definitions for burglary



English Language Learners Definition of burglary

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


bur·​glary | \ˈbər-glə-rē \
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 \
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 \ 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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More from Merriam-Webster on burglary

Spanish Central: Translation of burglary

Nglish: Translation of burglary for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of burglary for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about burglary

Comments on burglary

What made you want to look up burglary? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


obstinately defiant of authority

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