verb \ ˈfilch \
|Updated on: 12 Jul 2018

Definition of filch

filched; filching; filches
: to steal secretly or casually
  • filch a cookie

filch was our Word of the Day on 02/11/2014. Hear the podcast!

Examples of filch in a Sentence

  1. He filched a pack of gum when no one was looking.

  2. too hungry to wait until the party had started, he filched a cookie from the buffet table when no one was looking

Recent Examples of filch from the Web

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.

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.

Origin and Etymology of filch

Middle English

filch Synonyms


make away with, make off with, run off with, walk off with;

Synonym Discussion of 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

FILCH Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of filch for English Language Learners

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

FILCH Defined for Kids


verb \ ˈfilch \

Definition of filch for Students

filched; filching
: to steal in a sneaky way

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very hard to disturb or upset

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