\ 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 Before entering the restaurant, the thief turned its power off via a Centerpoint cut-off handle outside, which damaged the screens Just GRK uses to project their menus. Emma Balter, Chron, 6 May 2022 Museum staffers believe the thief or thieves didn’t understand the statues’ significance. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 5 May 2022 Once removed by a thief, who often uses a portable rotary saw to cut through the exhaust plumbing, a car will often still run (usually poorly with numerous engine lights and warnings activated) but will emit a loud, telltale exhaust roar. Bill Roberson, Forbes, 30 Apr. 2022 Diabolik, a new feature adaptation of the cult Italian comic book about the titular master thief, has sold across Europe and also reached major deals for South Korea and Latin America. Scott Roxborough, The Hollywood Reporter, 20 Apr. 2022 Diaz didn’t spot the thief until his driver’s side door had been opened. Champe Barton, USA TODAY, 11 Apr. 2022 The married mother of two daughters said Safestreets was created as a response to recent incidents, including the death of a New Britain jogger allegedly run down by a teenage car thief and a shooting in Glastonbury last week. Jesse Leavenworth,, 10 July 2021 Still, whatever his trauma, the historical Billy was nonetheless a horse and cattle thief — and, more important, a killer. Chris Vognar, New York Times, 21 Apr. 2022 Three weeks later, his store was hit again, this time by a thief who climbed up scaffolding, broke in through a second-story window and made off with several boxes of shoes. Zusha Elinson, WSJ, 20 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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

Buying Guide

Our Reviews team has selected the best home security camera systems.

Learn More About thief

Time Traveler for thief

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near thief



thief ant

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for thief

Last Updated

13 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Thief.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for thief


\ 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


Test Your Vocabulary

Name That Food

  • a-light
  • Name these cookies!
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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