filched; filching; filches

transitive verb

: to steal secretly or casually
filch a cookie

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 William Shakespeare's play The Merry Wives of Windsor. The Bard was fond of filch in both its literal and figurative uses; Iago, for example, says to Othello, "But 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.

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

Example Sentences

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 Of all people to filch a flag, Young would be the last you’d finger. Kevin Sherrington, Dallas News, 28 July 2021 Every week, more stories surface of people who have been accused of stealing or sequestering vaccines, or faking their eligibility to filch a dose. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 11 Mar. 2021 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,, 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, 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, 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,, 6 Aug. 2019 The amount that Taylor actually filched from the AFDC program was much less than authorities claimed. Bryce Covert, The New Republic, 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, 30 June 2019 See More

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.

Word History


Middle English

First Known Use

1561, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of filch was in 1561


Dictionary Entries Near filch

Cite this Entry

“Filch.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition



: to steal something slyly : pilfer

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