\ 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 Troopers working in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough started receiving reports of catalytic converter thefts in October. Dan Joling, Anchorage Daily News, "Wasilla man charged with stealing catalytic converters," 17 Jan. 2020 And two recent high-profile Oakland crimes — a deadly laptop grab at Starbucks and a bus-stop shooting sparked by a computer theft — have put people on edge, Anna Bauman reports. Taylor Kate Brown,, "Bay Briefing: When megaprojects are megaslow," 16 Jan. 2020 In addition to the purchases announced on Wednesday, the initial deal provides better protection to American companies that have long complained about thefts of their intellectual property and trade secrets. Michelle Toh, CNN, "China just agreed to buy $200 billion worth of US goods," 16 Jan. 2020 She was arrested and charged with drug abuse and theft. John Benson, cleveland, "Newburgh Heights man goes to jail with drugs in his pockets: Parma Police Blotter," 15 Jan. 2020 The American authorities have long accused Chinese companies and individuals of hacking and other outright theft of American corporate secrets. Keith Bradsher, New York Times, "How China Obtains American Trade Secrets," 15 Jan. 2020 He being charged with attempting to elude police, resisting arrest, fourth degree theft of property, improper lights, no driver’s license, switched tag and no insurance. al, "Mobile police detain Bel-Air mall shoplifting suspect, allegedly escaped after gun discharged," 14 Jan. 2020 Some of the automotive innovations that the Tucker offered include pop-out, shatterproof windshield panels, a perimeter frame, a padded dash above the front-passenger crash compartment, seatbelts, and a locking parking-brake handle to deter theft. Kirk Seaman, Car and Driver, "Gooding Auction Joins Throng of Car Auction Mega-Events in January," 12 Jan. 2020 Brothers charged in cheese shop theft Police on Friday arrested the second of two brothers from Clinton suspected of stealing $700 in cash from the Concord Cheese Shop two days before Christmas., "New England news in brief," 11 Jan. 2020

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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Time Traveler for theft

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for theft

Last Updated

21 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Theft.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 21 January 2020.

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More Definitions for theft


How to pronounce theft (audio)

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on theft

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for theft

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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

Comments on theft

What made you want to look up theft? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


good-natured easy friendliness

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