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

Definition of thief

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

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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

Robbie portrays Allison Wells, a thief on the run with a bounty on her, according to Deadline. Nicole Saunders, Harper's BAZAAR, "Margot Robbie Wore the Most Insane Sheer Chanel Jumpsuit to the Tribeca Film Festival," 29 Apr. 2019 In 2017, that hobby would be tested by an aspiring collector, a thief hidden in plain sight, and a rare plastic action figure worth more than your average car. Alexander Huls, Popular Mechanics, "The Great Star Wars Heist," 7 Mar. 2019 Therion, a thief, can steal items from enemies during combat, for example. Steven Strom, Ars Technica, "In Octopath Traveler, jobs define more than just gameplay mechanics," 22 Aug. 2018 Theft 4500 block of State Road 834 in Coconut Creek, June 25, 5:30 p.m. A thief broke into a Toyota Camry and stole a Dooney and Bourke handbag, valued at $125. Dan White,, "Coral Springs, Coconut Creek area crime reports," 12 July 2018 Surveillance cameras recorded a thief approaching his vehicle around 4:20 a.m. on the last Saturday in May. It was parked close to the Macomb Township home with exterior lights shining brightly. Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press, "Why you might want to wrap your car fob in foil," 6 July 2018 The Deerbrook Mall had a panty thief on its hands, who police say was hiding a pretty staggering collection of women's underwear. Matthew Martinez, star-telegram, "Panty thief caught with Ecstasy stole 612 pairs of Victoria's Secret undies, Texas cops say," 6 July 2018 Known around the streets of Agrabah as a scoundrel and a thief, the poor but warm-hearted Aladdin impersonates a prince in order to win the heart of the beautiful Princess Jasmine. Sydney Odman, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Aladdin': Everything to Know About the Live-Action Remake of the Disney Classic," 5 July 2018 But Bryan, there is only one thing more dangerous than a liar and a thief: A hungry man. Michael Harriot, The Root, "The Root’s Clapback Mailbag: It’s Not My Fault," 29 June 2018

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.

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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

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Statistics for thief

Last Updated

13 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for thief

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

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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

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More from Merriam-Webster on thief

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with thief

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for thief

Spanish Central: Translation of 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).


to speak slightingly about or to degrade

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