Examples of pilfer in a Sentence
She pilfered stamps and paper from work.
what sort of person would pilfer lunches from the office refrigerator?
Recent Examples of pilfer from the Web
Monday night’s theft was far less ambitious: Payne is accused of pilfering $86.22 in items from a DeKalb County Walmart’s pharmacy, electronics and grocery departments, multiple Atlanta media outlets reported Tuesday, citing a police report.
When the broken system works in favor of the rich instead of the little guy, why not pilfer a little piece of the wreckage to help support your family?
Two months ago hackers pilfered Yapizon, another South Korean crypto exchange, to the tune of 3,816.20 Bitcoin, or more than $5.5 million.
From Yves Saint Laurent popularizing the trouser for women with his Le Smoking to Keith Richards upending menswear norms by pilfering from girlfriend Anita Pallenberg's closet, fashion during the end of the '60s was more revolution than evolution.
Fortune pilfered, Clinton Portis contemplated revenge under the veil of darkness.
A whimsical statue of a laughing Humpty Dumpty was pilfered over the weekend from the Fine Art Exhibition at the San Diego Fair.
And the coarse-grain dashtop might have been pilfered from the Ford Taurus assembly plant.
Angela Spaccia was convicted in 2013 of pilfering millions from the treasury of a tiny working-class town.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pilfer.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
The Various Uses of pilfer
Pilfer is a synonym of steal, but it typically implies a particular kind of stealing. What is pilfered is usually stolen stealthily—furtively, so that no one will notice—in small amounts and often again and again. One might, for example, pilfer cookies from a cookie jar until a plentiful supply has dwindled to nothing. The word is sometimes used for that kind of stealing: the stealthy and gradual stealing of something that isn't worth much anyway:
Money was tight enough that Dickey's family used silverware pilfered from the local Western Sizzlin….
— L. Jon Wertheim, Sports Illustrated 2 Apr. 2012
But it is also used when the stolen things are valuable indeed, and the act of pilfering a serious criminal act:
For generations, scavengers have prowled this city with impunity, pouncing on abandoned properties and light poles to pilfer steel, copper and other metals they could trade for cash at scrapyards. The practice left tens of thousands of buildings so damaged that they could not be restored, turning places like the North End into grim cityscapes that appeared to have been ravaged by a tornado.
— John Eligon, The New York Times, 15 Mar. 2015
Pilfer may remind one of a similar also-serious word: pillage. The two words share more than a first syllable; pilfer comes from an old word meaning "booty" (as in, things that are stolen or taken by force, especially during a war) and pillage means "to take things from a place by force especially during a war." But despite their similarities, the words in modern use are very different. Pilfer has long since shed the connotations of violence in its etymological past; what's pilfered is not taken violently. Pillage, on the other hand, remains firmly rooted in violence and especially war; it is not a term you apply when someone's been sneaking cookies from a cookie jar.
Origin and Etymology of pilfer
First Known Use: circa 1548See Words from the same year
Synonymsappropriate, boost [slang], filch, heist, hook, lift, misappropriate, nick [British slang], nip, steal, pinch, pocket, purloin, rip off, snitch, swipe, thieve
Related Wordsburglarize, knock over, rob; loot, pillage, plunder, sack; carjack, hijack (also highjack); pick, rifle; poach, rustle, shoplift; collar, grab, grasp, nail, seize, snatch, take; mooch, sponge; abduct, kidnap, shanghai, spirit
Near Antonymsbuy, purchase; bestow, contribute, donate, give, hand over, present
Synonym Discussion of pilfer
- steal jewels
- stole a look at the gifts
- pilfered from his employer
- filched an apple from the tray
- printed a purloined document
PILFER Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of pilfer for English Language Learners
: to steal things that are not very valuable or to steal a small amount of something
PILFER Defined for Kids
Definition of pilfer for Students
legal Definition of pilfer
- accused of pilfering from passenger luggage
- found pilfering goods from a store he was guarding
pilferageplay \ˈpil-fə-rij\ noun
Seen and Heard
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