\ˈfilch \
filched; filching; filches

Definition of filch 

transitive verb

: to steal secretly or casually filch a cookie

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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

As Torun’s nimble camera follows the cats doing their rounds—filching food, catching rats, scaring off interlopers—the film offers a glimpse of something richer and more poetic. Vogue, "These Are the 66 Best Documentaries of All Time," 8 Aug. 2018 Forays like these increasingly vex trade hawks in America, who fear that China will filch its cutting-edge technology. The Economist, "China’s new $15bn tech fund emulates SoftBank’s Vision Fund," 5 July 2018 On the weekends, when the bankers flee to the ’burbs, filching swigs of liquor on the Metra, the LaSalle Street canyon goes dark. Michael Nagrant, RedEye Chicago, "Worth a trip: Mezcal old fashioned from Vol. 39," 20 Dec. 2017 Some of the plotting also filches from another famous genre picture., "Movies: New and Noteworthy," 19 Feb. 2018 The cause of the new public relations crisis is the disclosure last week of two new ways to filch data from the microprocessors inside nearly all of the world’s computers. Don Clark, New York Times, "Intel Faces Scrutiny as Questions Swirl Over Chip Security," 7 Jan. 2018 Such price sensitivity is reflected in what gets filched. The Economist, "Lucrative lootHow the economics of robbery are changing," 16 Dec. 2017 This time the 30-year-old Tremayne is on assignment for the India Office, which has replaced the East India Company, and his aim is to travel to the Peruvian highlands to filch cinchona cuttings. Sara Wheeler, New York Times, "A 19th-Century Smuggler in the Peruvian Andes," 15 Sep. 2017 Dean steals cars where the others are scarcely capable of filching a loaf of bread from an untended grocery. Lily Rothman, Time, "Read TIME's Original 1957 Review of On the Road," 5 Sep. 2017

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.

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First Known Use of filch

1561, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for filch

Middle English

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Last Updated

15 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for filch

The first known use of filch was in 1561

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More Definitions for filch



English Language Learners Definition of filch

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


\ˈfilch \
filched; filching

Kids Definition of filch

: to steal in a sneaky way

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More from Merriam-Webster on filch

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with filch

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for filch

Spanish Central: Translation of 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).


to make faulty or ineffective

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