\ ˈstēl How to pronounce steal (audio) \
stole\ ˈstōl How to pronounce stole (audio) \; stolen\ ˈstō-​lən How to pronounce stolen (audio) \; stealing

Definition of steal

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to take the property of another wrongfully and especially as a habitual or regular practice
2 : to come or go secretly, unobtrusively, gradually, or unexpectedly
3 : to steal or attempt to steal a base

transitive verb

1a : to take or appropriate without right or leave and with intent to keep or make use of wrongfully stole a car
b : to take away by force or unjust means they've stolen our liberty
c : to take surreptitiously or without permission steal a kiss
d : to appropriate to oneself or beyond one's proper share : make oneself the focus of steal the show
2a : to move, convey, or introduce secretly : smuggle
b : to accomplish in a concealed or unobserved manner steal a visit
3a : to seize, gain, or win by trickery, skill, or daring a basketball player adept at stealing the ball stole the election
b of a base runner : to reach (a base) safely solely by running and usually catching the opposing team off guard
steal a march on
: to gain an advantage on unobserved
steal one's thunder
: to grab attention from another especially by anticipating an idea, plan, or presentation also : to claim credit for another's idea



Definition of steal (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the act or an instance of stealing
2 : a fraudulent or questionable political deal
3 : bargain sense 2 it's a steal at that price

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from steal


stealable \ ˈstē-​lə-​bəl How to pronounce stealable (audio) \ adjective
stealer noun

Synonyms for steal

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for steal


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

Examples of steal in a Sentence

Verb They stole thousands of dollars' worth of jewelry from the store. He discovered that his car had been stolen. The store manager accused the boy of stealing. I stole a cookie from the cookie jar. They stole our best pitcher away from our team. His outstanding performance stole the show. Noun This car is a steal at only $5,000. He has 40 steals this season. a nifty steal by the defender
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Numerous bottles of liquor were reported stolen at 4:57 p.m. Nov. 23 from Whole Foods, 215 S. Route 83, by two men who pushed a loaded shopping cart out of the store. Graydon Megan,, "Elmhurst police blotter: Cash, driver’s license stolen from car," 29 Nov. 2019 More than 3,000 people have lost access to critical accounts because of SIM-swapping, and some reported being blackmailed and having their identities stolen. Kim Komando, USA TODAY, "5 ways to defend your phone against SIM swap attacks," 28 Nov. 2019 German jewel heist thieves walked off with a 49 carat diamond among the hoard of priceless jewels stolen. Petra Cahill, NBC News, "Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons, Trump's trade war, and what to binge watch this holiday: The Morning Rundown," 28 Nov. 2019 The coin stolen from the Bode Museum is widely assumed to have been melted and sold off. The Economist, "Ocean’s Eight on the Elbe A stunning, sad heist in Dresden," 28 Nov. 2019 One of his three turnovers was a second-quarter Jamal Murray steal atop the 3-point line, punctuated by an emphatic one-handed Murray dunk in transition with Thomas trailing. Kyle Fredrickson, The Denver Post, "“I can’t thank them enough”: Isaiah Thomas reflects on lone Nuggets season in Wizards defeat," 27 Nov. 2019 Murphy was reportedly arrested in Des Plaines before Willis allegedly stole a car and led police on the multi-jurisdiction chase that ended with the shooting at the Chicago music school. Erin Donaghue, CBS News, "Teen musician shot accidentally by officer: "Will I ever be able to play guitar again?"," 27 Nov. 2019 An officer pulled up behind the van, ran the tag and saw it had been reported stolen earlier that day. Bruce Vielmetti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "A Milwaukee police aide - assigned to Stolen Auto Desk - charged in vehicle theft," 27 Nov. 2019 The assistant was caught stealing $15,000 from the accounts and sentenced to three years in prison. Joseph Cranney, ProPublica, "These Judges Can Have Less Training Than Barbers but Still Decide Thousands of Cases Each Year," 27 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Tyler Polley hit a three, and Adams got a steal and lay-in, then powering to the basket for a dunk to get the crowd engaged and extend the Huskies’ lead to 42-30 with 14:37 to play. Dom Amore,, "UConn men find rhythm in second half, defeat Maine, 64-40," 1 Dec. 2019 During one stretch early in the second period, Williams, the Bearcats' junior guard, scored seven straight points and added a steal, pushing UC out front, 40-39, for the first time since the early going. Fletcher Page,, "Jarron Cumberland scores 20 in return, Cincinnati basketball beats UNLV in overtime," 1 Dec. 2019 Michigan Tech’s Kyle Monroe pumped in 26 points and made a pivotal steal with 21 seconds left and his team trailing by one point. Anchorage Daily News, "Clutch plays in final minute carry Michigan Tech past UAA men’s basketball team," 30 Nov. 2019 After a steal, DeMatha’s Jason Moore scored with one second remaining to close the quarter with a 19-13 lead. Mike Frainie,, "Varsity roundup: DeMatha races past Mount Saint Joseph in Charm City Classic," 30 Nov. 2019 That led to the four missed shots around the Wildcat goal and then the biggest steal of the century. Robert Avery, Houston Chronicle, "Clear Creek JV pulls off come-from-behind shocker to nab tournament prize," 30 Nov. 2019 Unadvertised deals make up about 90 percent of the steals Scott's Cheap Flights finds for its members. Natalie B. Compton,, "How to find the best travel deals on Black Friday and Travel Deal Tuesday, according to experts," 29 Nov. 2019 Wanamaker went for a steal on an incoming pass and just missed it., "Breaking down Buddy Hield’s record 11 3-pointers vs. the Celtics - The Boston Globe," 27 Nov. 2019 There are already quite a few Black Friday TV deals available right now—on 4K, HDR, and smart TVs—and some of them are serious steals. Lee Neikirk, USA TODAY, "Black Friday 2019: The best early TV deals available right now," 26 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'steal.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of steal


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1


circa 1825, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for steal


Middle English stelen, from Old English stelan; akin to Old High German stelan to steal

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about steal

Time Traveler for steal

Time Traveler

The first known use of steal was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for steal

Last Updated

4 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Steal.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 16 December 2019.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for steal


How to pronounce steal (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of steal

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to take (something that does not belong to you) in a way that is wrong or illegal
: to take (something that you are not supposed to have) without asking for permission
: to wrongly take and use (another person's idea, words, etc.)



English Language Learners Definition of steal (Entry 2 of 2)

informal : something that is being sold at a low price
baseball : the act of stealing a base
sports : the act of taking the ball, puck, etc., from another player


\ ˈstēl How to pronounce steal (audio) \
stole\ ˈstōl \; stolen\ ˈstō-​lən \; stealing

Kids Definition of steal

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to take and carry away (something that belongs to another person) without permission and with the intention of keeping
2 : to come or go quietly or secretly She stole out of the room.
3 : to draw attention away from others The puppy stole the show.
4 : to take or get secretly or in a tricky way He stole a nap.
5 : to reach the next base safely in baseball by running to it when the ball has not been hit in play
6 : to take (as a ball or puck) from another player
7 : to take something from a situation



Kids Definition of steal (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the act or an instance of stealing He leads the team in steals.
2 : bargain entry 1 sense 2 At 20 dollars, these boots were a steal.


\ ˈstēl How to pronounce steal (audio) \

Medical Definition of steal

: abnormal circulation characterized by deviation (as through collateral vessels or by backward flow) of blood to tissues where the normal flow of blood has been cut off by occlusion of an artery subclavian steal coronary steal

Keep scrolling for more

stole; stolen; stealing

Legal Definition of steal

: to take or appropriate without right or consent and with intent to keep or make use of — see also robbery, theft

History and Etymology for steal

Old English stelan

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on steal

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for steal

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with steal

Spanish Central: Translation of steal

Nglish: Translation of steal for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of steal for Arabic Speakers

Comments on steal

What made you want to look up steal? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


having a smooth flowing sound

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble tiles that read scrabble quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!