\ 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

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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

Vehicle theft occurred June 5 in the 3900 block of Alice Street, police said. Jennifer James, Houston Chronicle, "Thief takes — and returns — car, police say," 20 June 2019 The male was located nearby and had several items that may have been stolen in other thefts. Washington Post, "Crime reports for Anne Arundel and Howard counties and for Annapolis," 20 June 2019 The other charges include possession of a firearm by a felon, operating a motor vehicle without consent, failure to comply with officers and theft. Keith Schubert, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Nathan Halfmann charged with 7 counts related to the standoff that closed I-94 for hours," 20 June 2019 Vitantonio has represented police officers accused of a range of crimes, including misuse of a law enforcement database, stalking and theft. Evan Macdonald,, "Special prosecutor probing Euclid officer’s 2017 beating of motorist has history of defending police," 19 June 2019 In Okinawa, NCIS Special Agent Brandon McKinnon led a team that specialized in drug and theft cases. Matt Goldfarb, CBS News, "Investigation of airman's brutal murder in Japan uncovers deception, fraud and witchcraft," 19 June 2019 According to the complaint: Police were called to the 1200 block of Namekagon Loop Friday, June 7 at 8:14 a.m. for a dog theft report. Forum News Service, Twin Cities, "Man charged with stealing dog off deck in Hudson, Wis.," 19 June 2019 Incidents that can be reported online include car burglary, credit card abuse, criminal mischief, fraud, graffiti, harassment, and theft below $2,500. Cassandra Jaramillo, Dallas News, "Faced with short staffing, Dallas police start online reporting system for lower priority calls," 18 June 2019 Unfortunately, pet theft is an issue around the world. Kelli Bender,, "What to Do If Your Dog Is Stolen: Keep Calm and Update Your Pet's Microchip," 17 June 2019

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.

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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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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 commiting 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

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More from Merriam-Webster on theft

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with theft

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for theft

Spanish Central: Translation of theft

Nglish: Translation of theft for Spanish Speakers

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

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