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

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Other Words from steal


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

Synonyms for steal

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb What about the Trump administration’s concerns about Chinese students or researchers coming to the US to steal ideas? Will Knight, Wired, "The US Needs More Foreign Artificial Intelligence Know-How," 6 Jan. 2021 On appeal, the British High Court in 2018 blocked the extradition of the activist Lauri Love, who was charged in 2013 with hacking into U.S. government computers to steal confidential data. Washington Post, "British court rejects U.S. extradition request for WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange," 4 Jan. 2021 Veteran backup Ryan Fitzpatrick put Miami in game-winning field goal range with 19 seconds left to steal the victory. Safid Deen,, "Who has the edge? Dolphins at Bills, with playoffs on the line," 31 Dec. 2020 The Bears need to limit possessions for Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and steal a possession or two with the defense or special teams. Brad Biggs,, "Chicago Bears Q&A: Is this team poised for a Cinderella run? Are the front office and coaches safe now, or will the Packers game swing decisions? Is Dwayne Haskins worth a look?," 30 Dec. 2020 Here's how scammers steal millions meant for out-of-work Americans. Ashley Shaffer, USA TODAY, "It's here. The new COVID-19 strain is here.," 30 Dec. 2020 Police said vehicle owners can have extra metal welded onto their cars to make the converters more difficult to steal, or have an identification number etched on the catalytic converter. Mary Grace Granados, Dallas News, "Catalytic converters being stolen more often, Grapevine police say," 29 Dec. 2020 By the afternoon, the virus sought to steal back the gift. Brittny Mejia, Los Angeles Times, "Christmas Day in an O.C. ICU: Not many miracles but plenty of pain," 27 Dec. 2020 Roberts, the group's associate director, said the thieves broke into an outdoor freezer several times to steal frozen chicken parts. NBC News, "Silicon Valley's hunger problems grow during a time of record profits," 24 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Tyishawn Smiley scored the go-ahead points and Jamarion Johnson added a clinching layup off a steal in the final moments to seal the Tigers’ 85-82 Lake Erie League boys basketball victory, but relief came with a hint of dejection. Matt Goul, cleveland, "Warrensville Heights outlasts Shaker Heights, 85-82, in overtime," 5 Jan. 2021 That’s when Barfield hit her fourth 3-pointer, and Coffin followed with a layup off a steal to put the game away. Joseph Halm,, "Girls basketball: John Curtis wins district opener, hands Mount Carmel its first loss," 4 Jan. 2021 Then Hardy gets a steal, but Delaire with a block as Hardy flies toward the basket. oregonlive, "Chris Duarte helps Oregon Ducks pull away, beat Stanford 73-56 in men’s basketball," 2 Jan. 2021 The Roadrunners’ last points were netted with about two minutes left, when Jackson notched a steal to ignite a play that ended with a layup for Eric Parrish, pulling UTSA within 87-86. Greg Luca,, "Rice outlasts UTSA in shootout to open Conference USA season," 1 Jan. 2021 Seconds later, James Bouknight made a steal and broke from the pack, making a graceful, near 360-degree spin in the air and dunking, a SportsCenter highlight. Dom Amore,, "Dunks steal the show, but for UConn men it starts and ends with Dan Hurley’s defense; plus more takeaways from the win over DePaul," 31 Dec. 2020 Montrezl Harrell was a real steal and signing him to 2 years for 19M is great. Dan Woike, Los Angeles Times, "Lakers newsletter: Time to open the reader mailbag," 30 Dec. 2020 Lewis scored his first NBA points on a basket from the lane with 5:10 to play, then turned a steal into a layup 23 seconds later in New Orleans’ 111-86 loss at Phoenix Suns Arena. Mark Inabinett |, al, "Watch Kira Lewis score his first NBA basket," 30 Dec. 2020 On three consecutive Wolves offensive possessions, Culver hit a pair of threes and got an easy layup off a steal to put the Wolves up 62-51. Chris Hine, Star Tribune, "Timberwolves hold off Utah after Karl-Anthony Towns injury scare," 26 Dec. 2020

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for steal

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for steal

Last Updated

10 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Steal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Jan. 2021.

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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

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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

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Comments on steal

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