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 What money that has been allocated has often been spent inefficiently, or embezzled. Irina Vilcu, Bloomberg.com, "Health Care Is Killing Patients in Europe’s Most Corrupt Region," 29 Apr. 2020 Yang is additionally suspected of potentially embezzling company funds to use for gambling. Danny Kim, Billboard, "Disgraced YG Entertainment Founder and Ex-Big Bang Member Hit With Travel Bans," 21 Aug. 2019 Bad Education tells the true story of Roslyn High superintendent Frank Tassone (Hugh Jackman) and his assistant superintendent Pam Gluckin (Allison Janney) and their dual efforts to successfully embezzle around $11 million from the school district. Gina Vaynshteyn, refinery29.com, "The Real “Rachel” From HBO’s Bad Education Has Moved On," 25 Apr. 2020 Joyce’s attorneys sent a letter to the Federal Election Commission in February that said Coleman embezzled from the campaign between 2015 through 2018. Eric Heisig, cleveland.com, "Former Highland Heights mayor admits to stealing $160,000 from Ohio Rep. Dave Joyce’s campaign," 29 Aug. 2019 Not long after, alleged that Low bought the stunning showplace with money embezzled from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad fund. Los Angeles Times, "L.A. mansion that feds seized from ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ producer sells for $18.5 million," 19 Mar. 2020 Last week, federal prosecutors charged former UAW President Gary Jones with conspiracy to embezzle more than $1 million from union funds. Jamie L. Lareau, Detroit Free Press, "UAW fires regional leader, digs into allegations against another for harassment," 10 Mar. 2020 Carr said the investigation showed the Case embezzled in excess of $166,000 from BTS over a 27-month period. Carol Robinson | Crobinson@al.com, al, "Fultondale woman accused of embezzling $166,000 from Homewood business," 5 Mar. 2020 Her remedy was to embezzle $17 million from the Danish state. Time, "Amid Wave of Tax Fraud in Denmark, Social Worker Jailed For Embezzling $17 Million," 2 Mar. 2020

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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Time Traveler for embezzle

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

23 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Embezzle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/embezzle. Accessed 4 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for embezzle


How to pronounce embezzle (audio)

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.
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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