\ 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

Blakely was arrested this past week after being indicted on 13 charges of theft and abuse of power. Ashley Remkus |, al, "Indicted Alabama sheriff co-owns racehorse with county commissioner," 30 Aug. 2019 She was arrested on July 29 based on allegations of data theft, but the charges of illicit cryptocurrency mining are new. David Z. Morris, Fortune, "New Indictment Alleges Capital One Hacker Also Hit a University, State Agency, and Telecom Provider," 29 Aug. 2019 Former Google self-driving engineer Anthony Levandowski has been indicted on 33 counts of trade secret theft. Courtney Linder, Popular Mechanics, "Who Owns Lidar?," 28 Aug. 2019 Anthony Levandowski was charged with 33 counts of trade secrets theft in an indictment filed Tuesday by the U.S. attorney’s office in San Jose, California. San Diego Union-Tribune, "How Uber’s quest for self-driving tech led to criminal case," 27 Aug. 2019 Anthony Levandowski, a pioneer in robotic vehicles, was charged with 33 counts of trade secrets theft. Michael Liedtke, USA TODAY, "Former Google employee charged for stealing secrets, selling them to Uber," 27 Aug. 2019 Delgado, 44, was arrested in mid-July and charged with eight counts of misdemeanor theft. Paulina Pineda, azcentral, "This man posted a room for rent in a home he didn't own, police say," 22 Aug. 2019 Rose was defending a client accused of petty theft at the time. Jessica Anderson,, "Rare contempt finding brings Baltimore’s public defense attorneys to court in support of one of their own," 16 Aug. 2019 Also down were incidents of theft, with 161 reported during the first six months of this year, compared to 181 during the same time frame last year. Elizabeth Marie Himchak, Pomerado News, "Crime declines in Rancho Bernardo during first half of year," 14 Aug. 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 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

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

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).


to make a temporary encampment

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