pur·​loin | \ (ˌ)pər-ˈlȯin How to pronounce purloin (audio) , ˈpər-ˌlȯin \
purloined; purloining; purloins

Definition of purloin

transitive verb

: to appropriate wrongfully and often by a breach of trust

Other Words from purloin

purloiner noun

Synonyms for purloin


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Choose the Right Synonym for purloin

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

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The word purloin features in the title of a famous Edgar Allan Poe story in its past tense form: "The Purloined Letter" was included in Poe's 1845 Tales, and involves the search for a letter that a cabinet minister has stolen and is now using to blackmail the rightful owner, an unnamed woman of royalty. When Poe opted for ­purloin for his story, he was employing a term in use since the 15th century with the meaning "to put away; to inappropriately take or make use of." The word had earlier use, now obsolete, with the meaning "to set aside; to render inoperative or ineffectual," a meaning that links more clearly to the word's Anglo-French origin: purluigner means "to prolong, postpone, set aside," and comes from pur-, meaning "forward," and luin, loing, meaning "at a distance." Its ultimate root is Latin longus, long, meaning "long."

Examples of purloin in a Sentence

the studio stepped up security, fearing that someone might attempt to purloin a copy of the script for the show's season finale
Recent Examples on the Web Our plan to purloin dogecoin to purchase purifiers pursuant to our planetary progression terminates. Aaron Pressman, Fortune, 7 May 2021 Once some viruses had evolved ways of writing and copying DNA, their hosts would have been able to purloin them in order to make back-up copies of their RNA molecules. The Economist, 20 Aug. 2020 Federal prosecutors now say China used the program to purloin sensitive technology. Penn Bullock, New York Times, 6 Feb. 2020 Police say further investigation revealed the individuals had purloined the paper products — which are a scarce commodity amid the coronavirus pandemic — and the linens from a maid’s cart at a nearby hotel. Los Angeles Times, 16 Apr. 2020 Notwithstanding the belief of over 60 percent of Democrats, precipitated by breathless and often misleading media coverage, not one vote was altered by Putin, nor was a single person’s free will purloined by a Russian Twitter bot or Facebook ad. David Harsanyi, National Review, 20 Nov. 2019 Ronald Reagan insisted his glossy locks were naturally brown and claimed that reporters had purloined clippings from his barber's floor to prove him wrong. Author: Roxanne Roberts, Anchorage Daily News, 10 Nov. 2019 Ronald Reagan insisted his glossy locks were naturally brown and claimed that reporters had purloined clippings from his barber’s floor to prove him wrong. Washington Post, 6 Nov. 2019 Even John Lahr, the New Yorker theater critic who co-wrote her triumphant one-woman show, ended up suing her for allegedly purloining profits by using bits from the show in her cabaret act. BostonGlobe.com, 18 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'purloin.' 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 purloin

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for purloin

Middle English, to put away, misappropriate, from Anglo-French purluigner to prolong, postpone, set aside, from pur- forward + luin, loing at a distance, from Latin longe, from longus long — more at purchase entry 1, long

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The first known use of purloin was in the 15th century

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Dictionary Entries Near purloin



purl stitch

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Last Updated

14 Dec 2021

Cite this Entry

“Purloin.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/purloin. Accessed 24 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for purloin



English Language Learners Definition of purloin

: to take (something that belongs to someone else) : steal


transitive verb
pur·​loin | \ pər-ˈlȯin, ˈpər-ˌlȯin How to pronounce purloin (audio) \

Legal Definition of purloin

: steal

More from Merriam-Webster on purloin

Nglish: Translation of purloin for Spanish Speakers


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