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 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 Joseline Tillman, 28, was convicted of first-degree burglary and unauthorized use of a vehicle and given three years of probation. oregonlive, "Neighbors describe shock when Portland cop cited Obama administration for not stopping home burglary suspect," 23 Mar. 2021 All three were booked at the San Francisco County Jail on multiple charges, including second-degree burglary and inflicting injury on an elder. Los Angeles Times, "‘I might be dead right now’: Asian man describes brutal attack on S.F. street," 18 Mar. 2021 He was booked into Tempe City Jail on charges of first-degree murder and first-degree burglary. Nienke Onneweer, The Arizona Republic, "Man turns himself in to Tempe police for murder of girlfriend's brother," 16 Mar. 2021 She was arrested and faces charges of first-degree burglary. Fox News, "Oklahoma woman linked to home break-in after Cheetos residue found on her teeth, police say," 4 Mar. 2021 An arrest warrant was issued for White on Saturday night, charging him with third-degree arson and third-degree burglary. Bill Hutchinson, ABC News, "Connecticut ambulance employee arrested in string of Molotov cocktail attacks: Police," 1 Mar. 2021 He is being charged with second-degree arson and second-degree burglary, authorities said. Alta Spells, CNN, "Connecticut man accused of starting Molotov cocktail fires targeting ambulances," 28 Feb. 2021 Sasone was booked into San Francisco County Jail on suspicion of second-degree auto burglary, possession of burglar tools, and a probation violation. Lauren Hernández, San Francisco Chronicle, "Scruggs, Maltese puppy stolen in S.F., reunited with family," 27 Feb. 2021 Atkinson was held on 11 charges, including three counts of 3rd-degree burglary and was held on $500,000 bond, police said. Steven Goode, courant.com, "State police arrest five in Tolland incident," 22 Feb. 2021

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

9 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Burglary.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/burglary. Accessed 10 Apr. 2021.

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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 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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