\ ˈtheft How to pronounce theft (audio) \

Definition of theft

1a : the act of stealing specifically : the felonious taking and removing of personal property with intent to deprive the rightful owner of it
b : an unlawful taking (as by embezzlement or burglary) of property
2 : a stolen base in baseball
3 obsolete : something stolen

Examples of theft in a Sentence

The theft of the jewelry and other valuables was immediately reported to the police. He was found guilty of theft.
Recent Examples on the Web This theft is what made the Mona Lisa famous on a global scale — before that, it was considered one of Leonardo's minor works, ARTnews reports, but the disappearance made headlines and got the world interested in its whereabouts. Catherine Garcia, The Week, 6 June 2022 With unemployment benefits, however, the theft could be significant. Tony Romm And Yeganeh Torbati, Anchorage Daily News, 15 May 2022 Copper theft has been widespread in South Africa for years, with thieves targeting industries including mining, transportation, and telecommunications. Tristan Bove, Fortune, 14 May 2022 In beat 1833, retail theft was down 60% over the same period. Jeremy Gorner, Chicago Tribune, 13 May 2022 Identity theft is the use of your personal information or financial information without your permission. Yec, Forbes, 6 May 2022 Oil theft and artisanal refining of crude oil is a common practice in the Nigeria's delta region. Alexandra Meeks, CNN, 25 Apr. 2022 In many ways, the theft is the least exciting part of the story. Emily Zemler, Los Angeles Times, 22 Apr. 2022 The 1990 theft was the biggest art heist in modern history. Nora Mcgreevy, Smithsonian Magazine, 3 Mar. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of theft

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

History and Etymology for theft

Middle English thiefthe, from Old English thīefth; akin to Old English thēof thief

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Time Traveler for theft

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

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Dictionary Entries Near theft

the French



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Statistics for theft

Last Updated

18 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Theft.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for theft


\ ˈtheft How to pronounce theft (audio) \

Kids Definition of theft

: the act of stealing



Legal Definition of theft

: larceny broadly : a criminal taking of the property or services of another without consent

Note: Theft commonly encompasses by statute a variety of forms of stealing formerly treated as distinct crimes.

grand theft
: theft of property or services whose value exceeds a specified amount or of a specified kind of property (as an automobile)

Note: Grand theft is a felony.

identity theft
: the unauthorized use of another's means of identification (as name or social security number) for the purpose of committing theft or another crime
petty theft
: theft of property or services whose value is below a specified amount

called also petit theft

Note: Petty theft is a misdemeanor but may be aggravated by prior convictions.

History and Etymology for theft

Old English thiefth

More from Merriam-Webster on theft

Nglish: Translation of theft for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of theft for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about theft


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