\ ˈfilch How to pronounce filch (audio) \
filched; filching; filches

Definition of filch

transitive verb

: to steal secretly or casually filch a cookie

Keep scrolling for more

Choose the Right Synonym for filch

steal, pilfer, filch, purloin mean to take from another without right or without detection. steal may apply to any surreptitious taking of something and differs from the other terms by commonly applying to intangibles as well as material things. steal jewels stole a look at the gifts pilfer implies stealing repeatedly in small amounts. pilfered from his employer filch adds a suggestion of snatching quickly and surreptitiously. filched an apple from the tray purloin stresses removing or carrying off for one's own use or purposes. printed a purloined document

Did You Know?

I am glad I am so acquit of this tinder-box: his thefts were too open; his filching was like an unskilful singer-he kept not time. So says Falstaff in Shakespeare's play The Merry Wives of Windsor. The Bard was fond of filch in both its literal and figurative uses; Iago says to Othello, "he that filches from me my good name / Robs me of that which not enriches him / And makes me poor indeed." Filch derives from the Middle English word filchen ("to attack" or "to steal") and perhaps from Old English gefylce ("band of men, troop, army"). As a noun, filch once referred to a hooked staff used by thieves to snatch articles out of windows and from similar places, but this use is now obsolete.

Examples of filch in a Sentence

He filched a pack of gum when no one was looking. too hungry to wait until the party had started, he filched a cookie from the buffet table when no one was looking
Recent Examples on the Web The Coyotes, trying desperately to filch a wild-card spot in the West, cut their deficit to 3-2 with Jakob Chychrun’s goal only 26 seconds into the third. Kevin Paul Dupont,, "Bruins have enough to turn away Coyotes," 8 Feb. 2020 Malicious opportunists can attempt to steal users’ information from public access computers with keystroke loggers or other data filching viruses. Leeza Garber, WIRED, "Shh! No Hacking the Census in the Library," 22 Aug. 2019 Some employers, meanwhile, may be putting the most positive spin on job openings in a highly competitive environment in which the 3.6% unemployment rate – a 50-year low -- forces them to filch workers from each other. Paul Davidson, USA TODAY, "Talent dogfight: Rock stars, heroes and broken promises as job openings near record," 1 July 2019 That was good news because many of the home’s small treasures — vintage glass door knobs, wall sconces — hadn’t been filched or damaged. Richard A. Marini,, "Historic Tobin Hill home renovation paired wheelchair accessibility with preservation," 6 Aug. 2019 The amount that Taylor actually filched from the AFDC program was much less than authorities claimed. Bryce Covert, The New Republic, "The Myth of the Welfare Queen," 2 July 2019 Neither is Jeremy Lamb nor T.J. Warren, the 18-ppg scorer Pritchard filched from Phoenix, along with the 32nd pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, for cash. Gregg Doyel, Indianapolis Star, "Doyel: Malcolm Brogdon and Jeremy Lamb? Kevin Pritchard just made the Pacers a lot better," 30 June 2019 Calgary in 2013 tried to filch holdout Ryan O’Reilly away from the Avalanche with a two-year deal totaling $10 million. Kevin Paul Dupont,, "Blues’ Stanley Cup blueprint: Don’t expect league to follow suit," 15 June 2019 Warmbier was a curious college student on a tour of Pyongyang in January 2016 when he was arrested for allegedly filching a propaganda poster. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Otto Warmbier’s Reminder," 1 Jan. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'filch.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of filch

1561, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for filch

Middle English

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about filch

Listen to Our Podcast about filch

Statistics for filch

Cite this Entry

“Filch.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for filch



English Language Learners Definition of filch

informal : to steal (something that is small or that has little value)


\ ˈfilch How to pronounce filch (audio) \
filched; filching

Kids Definition of filch

: to steal in a sneaky way

More from Merriam-Webster on filch

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for filch

Nglish: Translation of filch for Spanish Speakers

Comments on filch

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Who Knew?

Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!