\ ˈthēf How to pronounce thief (audio) \
plural thieves\ ˈthēvz How to pronounce thief (audio) \

Definition of thief

: one that steals especially stealthily or secretly also : one who commits theft or larceny

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of thief in a Sentence

A thief took my purse. a thief has been stealing wallets and valuables from the lockers at the gym
Recent Examples on the Web An arriving officer discovered the thief, who was attempting to steal items valued at more than $13, had a warrant. John Benson, cleveland, "Resident finds it ‘very unusual’ man didn’t return friend’s borrowed vehicle: Brooklyn Police Blotter," 21 Apr. 2021 Politics can be such a thief — of friendships, alliances, and even marriages. Isaac Schorr, National Review, "All Boycotts Are Not Created Equal," 6 Apr. 2021 Working as security guards, Craig and Day-Day run into the thief who stole their Christmas presents. Ed Stockly, Los Angeles Times, "Movies on TV this week: James Dean in ‘Giant’ on TCM and more," 2 Apr. 2021 On the run and posing as a gem dealer in Bangkok, the French thief, conman and killer had for years been befriending travelers -- then drugging and robbing them. Julia Hollingsworth And Adam Renton, CNN, "From diplomat to detective, this man helped bring Asia's notorious 'Serpent' killer to justice," 13 Mar. 2021 Bernie Madoff, who died in federal prison Wednesday at age 82, was a monster, a Ponzi-schemer, a thief on a grand scale — and also the reason for a dark era in Mets history. Joe Delessio, Curbed, "One More Thing Bernie Madoff Helped Ruin: The Mets," 15 Apr. 2021 Also, Netflix is dropping a new season this summer of Lupin, its French-language original series about a gentleman thief that quickly became one of the streamer’s biggest shows of all time. Andy Meek, BGR, "Apple TV+ is the ‘highest quality’ streamer, a new study says," 13 Apr. 2021 Filing later gives a prospective thief more time to try to claim a refund in your name. Cyrus Purnell, Forbes, "The Tax Deadline Has Been Extended But You May Not Want To Wait," 5 Apr. 2021 The manager of a posh New Orleans hotel handles a hostile takeover, a scandal and a thief. Los Angeles Times, "Movies on TV this week: ‘An American in Paris’; ‘Ben-Hur’," 26 Mar. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'thief.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of thief

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for thief

Middle English theef, from Old English thēof; akin to Old High German diob thief

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about thief

Time Traveler for thief

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for thief

Last Updated

1 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Thief.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for thief



English Language Learners Definition of thief

: a person who steals something


\ ˈthēf How to pronounce thief (audio) \
plural thieves\ ˈthēvz \

Kids Definition of thief

: a person who steals : robber


plural thieves

Legal Definition of thief

: one who commits theft

History and Etymology for thief

Old English thēof

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on thief

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for thief

Nglish: Translation of thief for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of thief for Arabic Speakers

Comments on thief

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Star Wars Words Quiz

  • cu jedi training
  • The bounty portion of bounty hunters (such as Boba Fett) comes from a Latin word meaning
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!