\ ˈthēf \
plural thieves\ˈthēvz \

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

This suspected thief in Abilene did the same thing and lucky for us, it was all caught on tape. Francisca Ortega, Houston Chronicle, "Watch this suspected thief forget where his car is parked," 13 July 2018 Currently, thieves can capture fob signals from outside a home, office or hotel room. Phoebe Wall Howard, ajc, "Why you might want to wrap your car key fob in foil," 8 July 2018 In Anchorage, police recently warned car thieves were pouncing on 1990s-era Subarus, a hugely popular vehicle in Alaska. Devin Kelly, Anchorage Daily News, "When car thieves and the Alaska summer intersect: An old motorhome was stolen from a campsite," 7 July 2018 In some cases, thieves are turning to pawn shops to generate cash to feed their addiction. Taylor Palmby, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "A rare felony charge could help curb Wisconsin's opioid epidemic and property theft," 2 July 2018 Shaffer briefly operated a hamburger stand in Indianapolis and hauled coal with the fourth member of the gang, Charles Geiseking, another petty thief who did a stretch in prison. Dawn Mitchell, Indianapolis Star, "'Kill-Crazy' Brady gang tried to out-gangster John Dillinger," 29 June 2018 An online search for Coinbase shows its offices at a different location, a diversion tactic to keep away disgruntled crypto-currency investors, thieves who are trying to get access to crypto-assets, and other malefactors. The Economist, "A disciplined startup emerges from the Wild West of crypto-currency," 28 June 2018 His lesser known side gigs, however, included serving as the god of tricksters and thieves. Michael Mcknight,, "Percy Harvin Takes His Battle With Anxiety Public as He Gets Closer to Internal Peace," 28 June 2018 Few people outside the Coronado Police Department know its true identity because detectives put a GPS tracker on it to catch bike thieves. Gustavo Solis,, "Coronado's 'bait bike' has helped reduce bicycle theft by half," 27 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.

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

Old English thēof

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about thief

Phrases Related to thief

thick as thieves

Statistics for thief

Last Updated

16 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for thief

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for thief



English Language Learners Definition of thief

: a person who steals something


\ ˈthēf \
plural thieves\ˈthēvz \

Kids Definition of thief

: a person who steals : robber


plural thieves

Legal Definition of thief 

: one who commits theft

Keep scrolling for more

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 deposit or conceal in a hiding place

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Food Quiz

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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