em·​bez·​zle | \ im-ˈbe-zəl How to pronounce embezzle (audio) , em-\
embezzled; embezzling\ im-​ˈbe-​zə-​liŋ How to pronounce embezzling (audio) , -​ˈbez-​liŋ , em-​ \

Definition of embezzle

transitive verb

: to appropriate (something, such as property entrusted to one's care) fraudulently to one's own use embezzled thousands of dollars

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Other Words from embezzle

embezzlement \ im-​ˈbe-​zəl-​mənt How to pronounce embezzlement (audio) , em-​ \ noun
embezzler \ im-​ˈbe-​zə-​lər How to pronounce embezzler (audio) , em-​ , -​ˈbez-​lər \ noun

Did You Know?

English has a lot of verbs that mean to steal - some more specific than others. "Pilfer," "purloin," "rob," "swipe," "plunder," "filch," and "thieve" are some noted examples. "Embezzle" differs from these by stressing the improper appropriation of property to which a person is entrusted - often in the form of company funds. First appearing in English in the 15th century, embezzle derives via Middle English from the Anglo-French embesiller, meaning "to make away," formed from the prefix en- and the verb besiller, meaning "to steal or plunder." Related to "embezzle" is "bezzle," a verb used in some British English dialects to mean "to waste or plunder" or "to drink or eat to excess."

Examples of embezzle in a Sentence

He was caught embezzling money from his clients. He was convicted of embezzling.

Recent Examples on the Web

Sources tell Bloomberg Jones is one of several people accused of taking part in a long-term conspiracy to embezzle member dues and spend them on luxury villas and merchandise. Chris Morris, Fortune, "Why Nearly 50,000 GM Auto Workers Just Went On Strike," 16 Sep. 2019 An Orange County woman has been charged with embezzling more than $700,000 from high school student body funds. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Woman pleads not guilty to stealing $700,000 in school funds," 17 Aug. 2019 Court documents state Hill's newest crimes include forgery and identity fraud in order to embezzle large sums of his ex-wife's 401(k) pension plan in three separate incidents, resulting in a total of $248,000. Madeline Mitchell, Cincinnati.com, "Ft. Mitchell man sentenced for embezzling $248,000 from ex-wife's pension plan," 11 June 2018 Much of the money raised was allegedly embezzled or laundered. Shamim Adam, Washington Post, "How Malaysia’s 1MDB Scandal Shook the Financial World," 18 Sep. 2019 Prosecutors convinced the jury that Silva embezzled just over $247,000 from Bay Area Washout Systems, her former employer. Rick Hurd, The Mercury News, "East Bay woman used company credit card to pay daughter’s phone bill," 7 Sep. 2019 Last week, Bainbridge Township Republican Congressman Dave Joyce’s former campaign treasurer admitted embezzling $160,000 in re-election funds. Sabrina Eaton, cleveland.com, "Authorities investigating money missing from Ohio Congressman Steve Chabot’s campaign," 4 Sep. 2019 In August of 2018, Myers said, MSG called him and reported that Deveny had embezzled money from him. oregonlive, "Terry Bean’s lawyer, alleged victim’s lawyer colluded for months to get accuser to stay silent, new documents allege," 30 Aug. 2019 Then he was fired, having made the ultimate faux pas, embezzling thousands of dollars from his employer. Stephen Galloway, The Hollywood Reporter, "Les Moonves, Kevin Tsujihara and the Art of Hollywood Self-Sabotage," 23 Aug. 2019

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

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for embezzle

Middle English embesilen, from Anglo-French embesiller to make away with, from en- + besiller to steal, plunder

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Statistics for embezzle

Last Updated

11 Oct 2019

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Time Traveler for embezzle

The first known use of embezzle was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for embezzle



English Language Learners Definition of embezzle

: to steal money that you have been trusted with


em·​bez·​zle | \ im-ˈbe-zəl How to pronounce embezzle (audio) \
embezzled; embezzling

Kids Definition of embezzle

: to steal (money or property) despite being entrusted to take care of it The banker embezzled money from his customers.


transitive verb
em·​bez·​zle | \ im-ˈbe-zəl How to pronounce embezzle (audio) \
embezzled; embezzling

Legal Definition of embezzle

: to convert (property entrusted to one's care) fraudulently to one's own use — compare defalcate

Other Words from embezzle

embezzlement noun
embezzler noun

History and Etymology for embezzle

Anglo-French embeseiller to make away with, from en-, prefix stressing completion + beseller to snatch, misappropriate, from Old French, to destroy

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More from Merriam-Webster on embezzle

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for embezzle

Spanish Central: Translation of embezzle

Nglish: Translation of embezzle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of embezzle for Arabic Speakers

Comments on embezzle

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


to fake an opponent out of position

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