\ 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 On April 30, a judge waived two bonds -- one for felony theft, the second for the assault on the peace officer – and approved his transfer to a private residential care facility. Fox News, "Texas police union voices outrage after recently released career criminal fatally stabs grandma, 80, in broad daylight," 19 May 2020 Court records indicate Foster was previously arrested for theft of property in Guadalupe in 2007, and again for the same crime in 2013 in Schertz. Jacob Beltran,, "Wilson County woman accused of neglecting 3 grandchildren found malnourished, bruised," 14 May 2020 Santos was also wanted on an unrelated warrant for theft and has prior convictions that include assault with a deadly weapon, burglary and battery, police said. Matt Kawahara,, "Vallejo police arrest woman sought in robbery, coughing at security to get away," 29 Apr. 2020 The inmate who tested positive at Bullock, a 33-year-old serving a 10-year sentence for theft of property, is being treated and carefully monitored by his physicians. Carol Robinson |, al, "Alabama inmate dies 24 hours after positive COVID-19 test; 2 others also treated for coronavirus," 18 Apr. 2020 Bryson, 53, was sentenced in May 2015 to eight years for theft of means of transportation and two years of probation for unlawful flight from law enforcement. Lauren Castle, azcentral, "Arizona governor frees three terminally ill inmates," 7 Apr. 2020 Police identified Sullivan as the suspect in the robbery and theft, and the victim died April 19 as a result of the injuries, the release said. Ryan Vlahovich, azcentral, "Man arrested on first-degree murder charge after victim dies from hip fracture," 5 May 2020 Information was obtained about the theft and provided to detectives for their follow up investigation. Houston Chronicle, "Memorial Villages Police Department weekly report," 4 May 2020 He is charged with mail theft and faces up to five years in prison. Ben Kesslen, NBC News, "NYC man stole over $12,000 in stimulus checks from mailboxes, prosecutors say," 30 Apr. 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

26 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Theft.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jun. 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

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