em·bez·zle | \ im-ˈbe-zəl , em- \
embezzled; embezzling\im-ˈbe-z(ə-)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, em- \ noun
embezzler \im-ˈbe-z(ə-)lər, em- \ 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

In 2010, his half-brother was sentenced to five to six years in prison for embezzling millions of dollars from Cook while working as his business manager, PEOPLE reported at the time. Mike Miller, PEOPLE.com, "Jeopardy Posed a Question About Dane Cook's Convicted Half-Brother — See His Shocked Reaction," 4 June 2018 The onetime office manager for a Loveland company who embezzled more than $380,000 was sentenced Wednesday to one year in prison. Kevin Grasha, Cincinnati.com, "Ex-office manager for Loveland company sentenced for $380K embezzlement," 20 June 2018 In 2017, a former employee-benefit-plan manager was sentenced to a year and a day in prison for embezzling more than $420,000 from pension accounts. Valerie Strauss, Washington Post, "What’s going on at the nation’s premier historically black university?," 7 June 2018 In March Khalifa Sall (no relation), the mayor of Dakar, was sentenced to five years in prison for embezzling $3.4m. The Economist, "Senegal’s democracy is being tested by its president," 28 June 2018 He was accused of paying bribes to politicians in exchange for help with securing lucrative garbage contracts and for embezzling $900,000 from his trash company and investors to line his own pockets and build a mansion. Christina Hall, Detroit Free Press, "'Shakedown artist' Dean Reynolds guilty in Macomb corruption probe," 21 June 2018 According to the documents reviewed by ExpressNews.com, detectives don't have a full picture of how much the Russells may have embezzled and outright stolen. Caleb Downs, San Antonio Express-News, "Husband, wife accused of embezzling $150K in donations to Gonzales County EMS," 6 June 2018 The accountant for Chuck Palahniuk’s literary agency has been charged with embezzling millions from authors. Constance Grady, Vox, "Clockwork Orange author Anthony Burgess: “art is dangerous”," 2 June 2018 The 42-year-old resident of Livingston, New Jersey pleaded guilty in January to theft by deception. The state Attorney General's office says Branca embezzled about $243,000 from Apple while working as an administrative assistant. Fox News, "Ex-Apple employee gets 3-year prison term for embezzlement," 1 June 2018

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

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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Statistics for embezzle

Last Updated

13 Sep 2018

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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 \
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 \
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

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More from Merriam-Webster on embezzle

Spanish Central: Translation of embezzle

Nglish: Translation of embezzle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of embezzle for Arabic Speakers

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