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

Definition of burgle

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

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Synonyms for burgle


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Did You Know?

Burglary, which means "forcible entry into a building especially at night with the intent to commit a crime (as theft)," and "burglar" ("one who commits burglary") have been with us since the 16th century. "Burgle" and its synonym "burglarize" didn't break into the language until the 19th century, however, arriving almost simultaneously around 1870. "Burgle" is a back-formation (that is, a word formed by removing a suffix or prefix) from "burglar." "Burglarize" comes from "burglar" as well, with the addition of the familiar "-ize" ending. Both verbs were once disparaged by grammarians ("burgle" was considered to be "facetious" and "burglarize" was labeled "colloquial"), but they are now generally accepted. "Burglarize" is slightly more common in American English, whereas "burgle" seems to be preferred in British English.

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 Todd’s Ice, located near Genova’s in the 140 Village Shopping Center in Westminster, has also been burgled — and more than once — according to owner Todd Asplen. Jon Kelvey, baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll, "Westminster snowball stand owners report several recent burglaries: 'It drives you nuts’," 28 Aug. 2019 The unexpected disarray could have been the sign of a struggle, but Swearingen chalked it up to a break-in, and later filed a police report saying his home had been burgled while he was gone. Keri Blakinger, Houston Chronicle, "‘Lord forgive ’em’: Larry Swearingen executed despite claims of innocence," 21 Aug. 2019 It was later revealed to belong to a MPD officer whose home was burgled in May this year. Christopher Harress | Charress@al.com, al, "20-year-old charged with 3 counts of attempted murder after shootout with Mobile cops," 14 Aug. 2019 More recently came the Bling Ring, eight well-off young adults from Southern California who burgled jewels from the homes of a handful of young celebrities, including Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and Megan Fox. Eric Konigsberg, Town & Country, "Old School Jewelry Heists Are on the Rise—And Celebrities Are the Target," 12 Apr. 2018 Russia has more than twice the number of intentional homicides than the US, but Americans are over five times more likely to be burgled and over 14 times more likely to be assaulted, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. Henrik Pettersson, CNN, "Russia vs. US: Where is life better?," 14 Mar. 2018 West Brom winger James McClean has caused a stir on social media by lambasting a Twitter troll who revelled in the fact that he was recently burgled. SI.com, "West Brom Winger James McClean Lays Into Twitter Troll Who Rejoiced Over His Recent Burglary," 7 Jan. 2018 He is also charged with burgling Woods' apartment two weeks earlier, court records show. Cory Shaffer, cleveland.com, "Cleveland man beaten at former Saint Maron's rectory says he could have shot burglars," 5 Jan. 2018 He was charged under the Espionage Act and faced 115 years imprisonment, but the case ended in a mistrial because the government illegally gathered evidence (by, among other tactics, burgling his psychiatrist’s office). Sam Roberts, New York Times, "Who’s Who in ‘The Post’: A Guide to the Players in a Pivotal Era," 25 Dec. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'burgle.' 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 burgle

1867, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for burgle

back-formation from burglar

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Time Traveler for burgle

Time Traveler

The first known use of burgle was in 1867

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Cite this Entry

“Burgle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/burgle. Accessed 28 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for burgle

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

Legal Definition of burgle

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More from Merriam-Webster on burgle

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for burgle

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with burgle

Spanish Central: Translation of burgle

Nglish: Translation of burgle for Spanish Speakers

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