plural thieves ˈthēvz How to pronounce thief (audio)
: one that steals especially stealthily or secretly
also : one who commits theft or larceny

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 Advertisement Retail theft is causing a civic meltdown and inspiring a ballot measure to incarcerate repeat toothpaste thieves. Anita Chabria, Los Angeles Times, 8 Feb. 2024 Authorities said that prior to Wednesday, the Berkeley Apple store had been targeted by thieves five times already this year. Harry Harris, The Mercury News, 8 Feb. 2024 In 1969, thieves stole an 18th-century painting from a home in New Jersey. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 31 Jan. 2024 Festa said the thieves had visited Imperiale prior to the theft and were told by the lawmaker where to find the painting in Wood’s home, the FBI said. Matthew Brown, Fortune, 30 Jan. 2024 That said, the former petty thief must be tired after beating out 455 competitors, including childhood friend, in the Squid Game architects' sinister battle to the death over kids' games. Kelly Wynne, Peoplemag, 1 Feb. 2024 Instead of the Kalahari, Jason ended up in the hospital for a three-hour surgery and Katharine was left with lasting emotional damage after a bloody attack by thieves, according to the lawsuit. Ethan Baron, The Mercury News, 1 Feb. 2024 Wichita police identified the thieves’ truck via surveillance video. Greg Cote, Miami Herald, 31 Jan. 2024 The thieves stole the student's expensive Canada Goose jacket. Greg Wehner, Fox News, 30 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'thief.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near thief

Cite this Entry

“Thief.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


plural thieves ˈthēvz How to pronounce thief (audio)
: one that steals

Legal Definition


plural thieves
: one who commits theft

Old English thēof

More from Merriam-Webster on thief

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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