What It Means
: to appropriate wrongfully and often by a breach of trust
purloin in Context
"A comfortable career of prosperity, if it does not make people honest, at least keeps them so. An alderman coming from a turtle feast will not step out of his carriage to steal a leg of mutton; but put him to starve, and see if he will not purloin a loaf." — William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair, 1848
"White Fox, played with brisk, exemplary swagger by Hsu Feng, is a master thief employed by a corrupt landowner who wants to purloin a priceless sutra from a Buddhist monastery." — Glenn Kenny, The New York Times, 29 Oct. 2020
Did You Know?
The word purloin features in the title of a famous Edgar Allan Poe story in its past tense form: "The Purloined Letter" was included in Poe's 1845 Tales, and involves the search for a letter that a cabinet minister has stolen and is now using to blackmail the rightful owner, an unnamed woman of royalty. When Poe opted for purloin for his story, he was employing a term in use since the 15th century with the meaning "to put away; to inappropriately take or make use of." The word had earlier use, now obsolete, with the meaning "to set aside; to render inoperative or ineffectual," a meaning that links more clearly to the word's Anglo-French origin: purluigner means "to prolong, postpone, set aside," and comes from pur-, meaning "forward," and luin, loing, meaning "at a distance." Its ultimate root is Latin longus, long, meaning "long."
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Name That Synonym
Unscramble the letters to create a synonym of purloin: TTAARCSB.VIEW THE ANSWER
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP