\ 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 The reporter noted how Miller-Whitehead, who himself has a past of grifting and served prison time for theft and grand larceny, had suggested criminal records should not be considered in issuing special gun permits for clergymen and women. Danielle Wallace, Fox News, 2 Aug. 2022 That means demanding the addition of IT practices to monitor for, and act on, negative brand exposure—at least at the same level of robustness that is currently provided for data theft. Sharon Wagner, Forbes, 1 Aug. 2022 My son has a long history of incarcerations and has two felonies for theft and drug offenses. Amy Dickinson, cleveland, 29 July 2022 My son has a long history of incarcerations and has two felonies for theft and drug offenses. Amy Dickinson, oregonlive, 29 July 2022 My son has a long history of incarcerations and has two felonies for theft and drug offenses. Amy Dickinson, Washington Post, 29 July 2022 Meanwhile, in March 2020, the California Labor Commissioner’s Office levied a $2.1 million fine against Genwa for wage theft and labor law violations involving more than 300 workers. Los Angeles Times, 19 July 2022 She is reported to have been imprisoned for nine nights after being arrested for vehicle theft in March 2021, despite paying for her rental car. Chloe Taylor, Fortune, 18 July 2022 After amassing that information, the Austin police learned Armstrong also had a warrant out for her arrest on an unrelated charge for theft. Globe Staff,, 12 July 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

5 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Theft.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Aug. 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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