steal

1 of 2

verb

stole ˈstōl How to pronounce steal (audio) ; stolen ˈstō-lən How to pronounce steal (audio) ; stealing

intransitive verb

1
: to take the property of another wrongfully and especially as a habitual or regular practice
2
: to come or go secretly, unobtrusively, gradually, or unexpectedly
3
: to steal or attempt to steal a base

transitive verb

1
a
: to take or appropriate without right or leave and with intent to keep or make use of wrongfully
stole a car
b
: to take away by force or unjust means
they've stolen our liberty
c
: to take surreptitiously or without permission
steal a kiss
d
: to appropriate to oneself or beyond one's proper share : make oneself the focus of
steal the show
2
a
: to move, convey, or introduce secretly : smuggle
b
: to accomplish in a concealed or unobserved manner
steal a visit
3
a
: to seize, gain, or win by trickery, skill, or daring
a basketball player adept at stealing the ball
stole the election
b
of a base runner : to reach (a base) safely solely by running and usually catching the opposing team off guard
stealable adjective
stealer noun

steal

2 of 2

noun

1
: the act or an instance of stealing
2
: a fraudulent or questionable political deal
3
: bargain sense 2
it's a steal at that price
Phrases
steal a march on
: to gain an advantage on unobserved
steal one's thunder
: to grab attention from another especially by anticipating an idea, plan, or presentation
also : to claim credit for another's idea
Choose the Right Synonym for steal

steal, pilfer, filch, purloin mean to take from another without right or without detection.

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

pilfer implies stealing repeatedly in small amounts.

pilfered from his employer

filch adds a suggestion of snatching quickly and surreptitiously.

filched an apple from the tray

purloin stresses removing or carrying off for one's own use or purposes.

printed a purloined document

Example Sentences

Verb They stole thousands of dollars' worth of jewelry from the store. He discovered that his car had been stolen. The store manager accused the boy of stealing. I stole a cookie from the cookie jar. They stole our best pitcher away from our team. His outstanding performance stole the show. Noun This car is a steal at only $5,000. He has 40 steals this season. a nifty steal by the defender See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
These quirky memo holders will steal the show on anyone's work or at-home desk. Jessica Cherner, House Beautiful, 11 Nov. 2022 Again, knowing what happens from a detailed plot leak will not steal anything from Wakanda Forever’s magic. Chris Smith, BGR, 10 Nov. 2022 That match will steal the show — but the Division 2 championship between Aliso Niguel and Vista Murrieta is equally tantalizing. Luca Evans, Los Angeles Times, 3 Nov. 2022 This spring, create your own decorative Easter egg tree or purchase one as a spring centerpiece that will steal the show at your Easter brunch. Emily Vanschmus, Better Homes & Gardens, 13 Oct. 2022 In a room full of muted winter gowns, opt for a gorgeous floral pattern that’ll steal the show. Olivia O'bryon, Forbes, 9 Oct. 2022 Make your boots the focal point of your look by layering on cool-girl basics (like a leather blazer and jeans) that won't steal their shine. Hannah Oh, Seventeen, 8 Sep. 2022 To rebuild the Gators, Florida first-year coach Billy Napier will steal a page from Nick Saban. Edgar Thompson, Orlando Sentinel, 2 Sep. 2022 It’s the 1981 Hatteras, christened Ocean’s Grace, which will likely steal the show for yachtsmen, though. Demetrius Simms, Robb Report, 26 Aug. 2022
Noun
Hunter then made two more before converting a three-point play on a steal and layup that pushed the Texas lead to 20. Jim Vertuno, ajc, 17 Nov. 2022 Hunter then made two more before converting a three-point play on a steal and layup that pushed the Texas lead to 20. Jim Vertuno, BostonGlobe.com, 17 Nov. 2022 The 7-foot-2 true freshman from Bristol also grabbed eight rebounds, forced a steal and blocked two shots in 18 and a half minutes. Joe Arruda, Hartford Courant, 16 Nov. 2022 Hunter was a dominant perimeter force in TJ Otzelberger’s similarly aggressive scheme, ranking sixth in the Big 12 in steal rate. Tanner Mcgrath, Chicago Tribune, 16 Nov. 2022 Kevin is Stefani's steal from the Knockouts, and while his vocal performance is a little jumbled, the man can perform. Maggie Fremont, EW.com, 15 Nov. 2022 The first half belonged almost exclusively to Clark, who took a charge and followed a steal with a three-pointer that extended the Bruins’ lead to 15 points. Ben Bolch, Los Angeles Times, 14 Nov. 2022 Tyi Skinner used her speed throughout the game and got her third steal of the game at 7:36 in the third quarter and returned it for a layup on the fast break. Jenna Ortiz, The Arizona Republic, 12 Nov. 2022 Flanigan’s timely triple was followed by a steal and fastbreak dunk by Dylan Cardwell, capping a game-altering 12-2 run for Auburn, which trailed by nine at halftime and early in the second half before coming alive on its home floor. Tom Green | Tgreen@al.com, al, 11 Nov. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'steal.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

Verb

Middle English stelen, from Old English stelan; akin to Old High German stelan to steal

First Known Use

Verb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

Noun

circa 1825, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of steal was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near steal

Cite this Entry

“Steal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/steal. Accessed 28 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

steal 1 of 2

verb

stole ˈstōl How to pronounce steal (audio) ; stolen ˈstō-lən How to pronounce steal (audio) ; stealing
1
: to come or go secretly or quietly
stole out of the room
2
a
: to take and carry away without right and with the intention of keeping the property of another : rob
b
: to take in a sneaky way and without permission
steal a kiss
c
: to take entirely to oneself or beyond one's proper share
steal the show
3
b
: to accomplish or get in a concealed or unobserved manner
steal a nap
4
a
: to seize, gain, or win by trickery, skill, or daring
the basketball player stole the ball
b
: to gain a base in baseball by running without the aid of a hit or an error
steal one's thunder
: to grab attention from another especially by presenting an idea or plan first
also : to claim credit for another's idea
stealer noun

steal

2 of 2

noun

1
: the act or an instance of stealing
2
: something offered or purchased at a low price : bargain

Medical Definition

steal

noun

: abnormal circulation characterized by deviation (as through collateral vessels or by backward flow) of blood to tissues where the normal flow of blood has been cut off by occlusion of an artery
subclavian steal
coronary steal

Legal Definition

stole; stolen; stealing
: to take or appropriate without right or consent and with intent to keep or make use of see also robbery, theft

History and Etymology for steal

Old English stelan

More from Merriam-Webster on steal

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