\ 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

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Other Words from steal


stealable \ ˈstē-​lə-​bəl How to pronounce stealable (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 The girl spotted men trying to steal her parents’ minivan. Cory Shaffer, cleveland, "Life sentence for Cleveland man who killed woman during carjacking outside church before daughter’s quinceañera," 10 Feb. 2020 The beauty featured barely-there eyebrows, while bright pink and blue eyeshadows stood out to steal the show. Asia Milia Ware, Teen Vogue, "Teen Vogue Generation Next Alum Tia Adeola Debuted at New York Fashion Week 2020," 9 Feb. 2020 After relinquishing an early 20-10 lead that saw them down four points at halftime, Seton Hall maintained a slim lead in the game's final 10 minutes to steal one in Philadelphia. Gus Martin, USA TODAY, "Duke, North Carolina lead college basketball winners and losers after wild game," 9 Feb. 2020 Arndt says honeybees from nearby colonies often raid the nest in his backyard in an attempt to steal its honey, especially toward the end of summer when flowers become less available. National Geographic, "Photos from inside a tree reveal intimate lives of wild honeybees," 8 Feb. 2020 The two said in some cases Chinese students have been sent to American universities in order to steal intellectual property and trade secrets. Clare Hymes, CBS News, "FBI director and attorney general warn that Chinese espionage is growing threat," 6 Feb. 2020 The Buckeyes weren’t much better — but came up with enough key plays in the latter part of the second half to steal a road win. Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press, "Crucial call goes against Michigan basketball in 61-58 loss to Ohio State," 5 Feb. 2020 Only true love can break the spell, but an evil impostor is trying to steal the princess' true love. Briana Rice,, "Just wow. Cincinnati Ballet dancers walk on water at Mirror Lake in Eden Park," 5 Feb. 2020 Boston fired manager Alex Cora last month in the wake of the Astros’ cheating scandal; Cora was Houston’s bench coach in 2017 and an MLB investigation found that he was involved in the team’s scheme to steal opponents’ signs via video technology. Susan Slusser,, "A’s coach Mark Kotsay interviewed for Boston’s manager job," 4 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Junior Whitney Novak had 25 points, six rebounds and six steals as St. Luke’s rolled to a 65-34 Class 1A sub-regional win over A.L. Johnson on Monday. Ben Thomas |, al, "Coastal Girls Sub-Regional Roundup: St. Luke’s cruises past A.L. Johnson," 11 Feb. 2020 In 12 G League games, Bowman averaged 14.5 points, 5.5 assists, 5.9 rebounds and 1.3 steals. Connor Letourneau,, "Warriors’ Ky Bowman, fresh off new contract, faces crucial stretch," 8 Feb. 2020 Sophomore Annie McCarthy also put together a nice stat line with 10 points, seven rebounds and eight steals. Nate Weitzer,, "BC High basketball rallies to beat Catholic Memorial, earn share of Catholic Conference title," 8 Feb. 2020 Hajdukovich and Sala Langi each added eight points, and Yazmeen Goo was good for seven points, six assists, four rebounds and three steals. Anchorage Daily News, "UAA women’s basketball team wins on the road to strengthens its grip on GNAC lead," 7 Feb. 2020 James added 21 points with eight rebounds and three steals. Matt Goul, cleveland, "No. 8 Cleveland Heights takes care of Bedford, rematch with No. 19 Lorain next: Tuesday’s boys basketball scoreboard," 5 Feb. 2020 By comparison, Lillard averaged an NBA-leading 34.1 points, 8.4 assists, 5.1 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 15 appearances in January. Jamie Goldberg, oregonlive, "Should Damian Lillard have been named NBA Western Conference Player of the Month for January?," 4 Feb. 2020 Logan Steinmacher posted 22 points, nine rebounds and three steals to lead North Bullitt (13-4). Jason Frakes, The Courier-Journal, "Spalding's 3-pointer lifts young Eastern squad over North Bullitt in boys LIT," 14 Jan. 2020 The junior guard had 20 points, four rebounds and five steals in Williamsburg’s 67-36 win over East Clinton. Melanie Laughman,, "Enquirer names Greater Cincinnati high school athletes of the week, Jan. 11," 10 Jan. 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

13 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Steal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Feb. 2020.

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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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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

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