bur·​gle ˈbər-gəl How to pronounce burgle (audio)
burgled; burgling ˈbər-g(ə-)liŋ How to pronounce burgle (audio) ; burgles

transitive verb

: to break into and steal from (a home, business, etc.) : burglarize
One area resident tells Newsweek her house had been burgled a few years ago while she and her husband were inside.Jeff Stein

intransitive verb

: to commit robbery
Clearly, the more often a man … burgles, the more likely he is to get caught.The Economist
While the law is a disincentive, the main reason most of us don't kill, punch or burgle is that we think it's wrong and consequently prefer not to.David Mitchell

Frequently Asked Questions

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 burgle in a Sentence

someone burgled the lab when no one was there and let the animals out of their cages the neighbors returned from vacation to find that their house had been burgled
Recent Examples on the Web Footage from a camera near the home's front door, which Dr. M's family shared with Southlake DPS, clearly shows an opportunist opossum burgled the baked goods. Kelli Bender, Peoplemag, 1 Feb. 2024 Grief Is for People Over the course of a few short months, Sloane Crosley’s apartment was burgled and her best friend died. Chloe Schama, Vogue, 12 Jan. 2024 The unit's first assignment was to discredit Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers, by burgling the office of his psychiatrist Lewis Fielding in order to find incriminating evidence—ultimately to no avail. Philip Ellis, Men's Health, 9 May 2023 Unable to question Diller, authorities can only speculate what motivated him to burgle the museum. Fern Reiss, Smithsonian Magazine, 14 Apr. 2023 The store recently burgled is in Lynnwood, Washington. Scharon Harding, Ars Technica, 7 Apr. 2023 Detectives investigating the shooting found that three teens were burgling the home when they were confronted by the armed homeowner, Hinojos,, police said. Jose R. Gonzalez, The Arizona Republic, 18 Mar. 2023 Certainly pet-store pricing isn’t always top of mind: Some parrot burglars seem to burgle parrots as an afterthought, or lagniappe. Daniel Engber, The Atlantic, 5 Oct. 2022 Odessa A’zion), a young woman with addiction issues who impulsively goes along with the plan of her boyfriend Trevor (Drew Starkey) to burgle a storage unit. Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter, 4 Oct. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'burgle.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


back-formation from burglar

First Known Use

1867, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of burgle was in 1867


Dictionary Entries Near burgle

Cite this Entry

“Burgle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/burgle. Accessed 16 Apr. 2024.

Legal Definition


transitive verb
bur·​gle ˈbər-gəl How to pronounce burgle (audio)
burgled; burgling

More from Merriam-Webster on burgle

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