Synonym Chooser

How does the verb pilfer differ from other similar words?

Some common synonyms of pilfer are filch, purloin, and steal. While all these words mean "to take from another without right or without detection," pilfer implies stealing repeatedly in small amounts.

pilfered from his employer

When is it sensible to use filch instead of pilfer?

The meanings of filch and pilfer largely overlap; however, filch adds a suggestion of snatching quickly and surreptitiously.

filched an apple from the tray

In what contexts can purloin take the place of pilfer?

In some situations, the words purloin and pilfer are roughly equivalent. However, purloin stresses removing or carrying off for one's own use or purposes.

printed a purloined document

When is steal a more appropriate choice than pilfer?

While the synonyms steal and pilfer are close in meaning, steal may apply to any surreptitious taking of something and differs from the other terms by commonly applying to intangibles as well as material things.

steal jewels
stole a look at the gifts

Thesaurus Entries Near pilfer

Cite this Entry

“Pilfer.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/pilfer. Accessed 7 Dec. 2023.

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