\ 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

Keep scrolling for more

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 He was charged with theft and taken to the hospital after complaining of chest pains. cleveland, 8 Oct. 2021 Police arrested Traynham four days later on July 11 and charged him only with the theft of Atkinson’s car. Zach Murdock,, 8 Oct. 2021 Musa was criminally charged that year with theft in connection with $10 million earmarked for housing projects. Washington Post, 4 Oct. 2021 Brighton Police Chief Larry Woods told the news site multiple people are in custody in connection with the theft. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 30 Sep. 2021 Dortch has been charged with theft of mail from a U.S. Postal Service collection box and was released on bond, according to court documents. Jennifer Johnson,, 22 Sep. 2021 Alyssa Ludtke, 38, of Waukesha was charged Aug. 20 in Waukesha County Circuit Court with theft from a business setting of more than $10,000, according to court records. Alec Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 24 Aug. 2021 More than 55 were charged with entering the Capitol with a dangerous or deadly weapon, while over 35 were charged with destruction of government property and almost 30 were charged with theft of government property, the Department of Justice said. Clare Hymes, Cassidy Mcdonald, CBS News, 11 Aug. 2021 In 2017, Bonner was one of three men indicted by a federal grand jury in connection with the theft of firearms from Scott’s Jewelry and Pawn, which is a licensed firearms dealer in Tarrant. Carol Robinson |, al, 5 Aug. 2021

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About theft

Time Traveler for theft

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near theft

the French



See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for theft

Last Updated

16 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Theft.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Oct. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon
Seen & Heard
People are talking about

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for theft



English Language Learners Definition of theft

: the act or crime of stealing


\ 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


Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something 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!