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

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 Since over half of all state prisoners are in for murder, rape, robbery or assault, and another 14 percent were sentenced for burglary, major theft or fraud, public enthusiasm for leniency would be limited. Barry Latzer, National Review, "Democrats Prefer ‘Reforming’ the Criminal-Justice System to Punishing Criminals," 17 Feb. 2020 However, Miller was convicted of having weapons under disability and improperly handling firearms in a motor vehicle, and Drake was sentenced for burglary, according to the newspaper. Phil Helsel, NBC News, "Five inmates escape from Ohio correctional facility," 13 Feb. 2020 He is being held without bond on previous outstanding warrants for burglary, theft, obstruction of justice and failure to appear. Carol Robinson | Crobinson@al.com, al, "Man surrenders after woman forced into sex acts in abandoned Brookside house, police say," 1 Feb. 2020 About a dozen have been fired after relapsing, said Michael Taylor, Nehemiah’s operations manager who has struggled with drug and alcohol addiction and was jailed for burglary. Ruth Simon, WSJ, "The Company of Second Chances," 25 Jan. 2020 Irons, a 39-year-old who is from Missouri, is serving a 50-year sentence after being convicted for burglary and assaulting a homeowner with a gun. Jill Martin, CNN, "Basketball star Maya Moore to skip second consecutive WNBA season and 2020 Olympics to focus on criminal justice reform," 23 Jan. 2020 No mere burglary, a heist implies three things: first, that there is a treasure; second, a protagonist with the patience, planning, coordination, and misdirection to capture it; and third, ideally, a daring escape. Tim Fernholz, Quartz, "2019: The year in heists and capers," 24 Dec. 2019 Police in New York are looking for a man wanted for a burglary caught on tape where the victim was robbed at gunpoint while getting a haircut. Fox News, "New York man robbed at gunpoint during haircut, video shows," 22 Oct. 2019 The Twin Falls Police Department says Bamber was wanted for burglary and firearm possession charges by California authorities and was a suspect in two kidnappings in Nevada. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Idaho police identify man killed in police chase, shooting," 18 Oct. 2019

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

28 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Burglary.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/burglary. Accessed 28 Feb. 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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