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
Hundreds of millions receive government subsidies for fertiliser or gas as digital payments, rather than as in-kind rations, which were often pilfered.
The latest twist in tax-time identity fraud involves thieves who pilfer personal and financial information, often from professional tax preparers.
The last of which was an exceptional steal by Griffin who pilfered the ball at half-court, raced to the basket with finesse and absorbed the contact for a three-point play and a 42-24 advantage with 5:47 to go in the third.
Smart's success at locking down his state has especially hurt Auburn, which has long had a history of pilfering top players from the state of Georgia (think Carl Lawson, Phillip Lutzenkirchen and Carlos Rogers, to name three).
The Colts had a rookie head coach, Don McCafferty, after the Dolphins pilfered Don Shula.
Claywell’s first encounter with federal prosecutors was in 2000 when he was convicted of pilfering $400,000 from his employees’ pension funds and spending it on himself.
Season 5 of Orange Is the New Black was pilfered from Netflix last month, for example, though the streaming platform, much like Disney, rolled its eyes and kept an even tighter clutch on its wallet.
Hackers have been showing an increasing interest in pilfering it from people’s Bitcoin wallets.
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
make away with, make off with, run off with, walk off with;
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
PILFER Defined for Kids
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
What made you want to look up pilfer? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).