\ 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

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 Jackson was a thief in the night, grabbing six steals to add to his second straight double-digit effort, scoring 15 points with three rebounds and four assists. Evan Dudley, al, 12 Nov. 2021 Police arrived and found that the thief — or thieves — had disabled the external surveillance cameras before entering the business. Karen Kucher, San Diego Union-Tribune, 11 Nov. 2021 The victims, Ben and his wife Masha, who was driving, told ABC 7 that the thief escaped with more than $7,000 in camera equipment after they were followed from a photo shoot. Jake Dima, Washington Examiner, 7 Feb. 2021 In this absence, and with no clear monetization strategy to the thief’s or thieves’ efforts, cybersecurity experts have been left scratching their heads. New York Times, 21 Dec. 2020 Dom Cobb is a thief with the rare ability to enter people's dreams and steal their secrets from their subconscious. Travis Bean, Forbes, 16 Oct. 2021 Kravitz's character, thief/love interest Selina Kyle, is quite the fighter, too. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, 16 Oct. 2021 In San Francisco, police had handcuffed a woman at gunpoint in 2009 after a camera garbled her plate number; another family was similarly detained last year because a thief had swiped their tag before committing a crime. Washington Post, 22 Oct. 2021 Troyer, who did not identify himself as the sheriff or a law enforcement officer, allegedly told Altheimer his wife was Black and began to question him and accuse him of being a thief, according to the declaration. Jennifer Henderson, CNN, 19 Oct. 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.

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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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Time Traveler for thief

Time Traveler

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

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thief ant

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Statistics for thief

Last Updated

3 Dec 2021

Cite this Entry

“Thief.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Dec. 2021.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on thief

Nglish: Translation of thief for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of thief for Arabic Speakers


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