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or cleptomania

[klep-tuh-mey-nee-uh, -meyn-yuh] /ˌklɛp təˈmeɪ ni ə, -ˈmeɪn yə/
noun, Psychology.
an irresistible impulse to steal, stemming from emotional disturbance rather than economic need.
Origin of kleptomania
1820-30; klepto- (combining form of Greek kléptēs thief) + -mania Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for kleptomania
Historical Examples
  • A euphemism of kleptomania had been offered and accepted as sufficient excuse for her crime.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • Had Pistol lived in these days he would have said, 'kleptomania the wise it call.'

    The Book-Hunter in London William Roberts
  • The victim of kleptomania will steal any and everything; they are like magpies in this respect.

    Religion and Lust James Weir
  • One man is afflicted with colour-blindness, another with kleptomania.

    Not Guilty Robert Blatchford
  • It may be kleptomania,—God knows; but whatever it is, she threw off all disguise.

    'Laramie;' Charles King
  • But I have succeeded; I have drawn you back from kleptomania to your own clear moral strength.

    The Bells of San Juan

    Jackson Gregory
  • Another fancied it was a question of kleptomania or "something really weird."

    The Brightener C. N. Williamson
  • kleptomania, a propensity to theft; common in women in easy circumstances.

    Aids to Forensic Medicine and Toxicology W. G. Aitchison Robertson
  • Another periodical insanity is kleptomania, in which insane stealing occurs at intervals of greater or lesser regularity.

    Degeneracy Eugene S. Talbot
  • Its exercise would probably be classed with kleptomania and other like excesses of purely personal consideration.

    The Soul of the Far East Percival Lowell
British Dictionary definitions for kleptomania


(psychol) a strong impulse to steal, esp when there is no obvious motivation
Derived Forms
kleptomaniac, noun
Word Origin
C19: klepto- from Greek kleptēs thief, from kleptein to steal + -mania
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for kleptomania

1830, formed from mania + Greek kleptes "thief," from kleptein "to steal, act secretly," from PIE *klep- "to steal," an extention of root *kel- "to cover, conceal" (see cell; cf. Latin clepere "to steal, listen secretly to," Old Prussian au-klipts "hidden," Old Church Slavonic poklopu "cover, wrapping," Gothic hlifan "to steal," hliftus "thief"). Much-derided 19c. as a fancy term for old-fashioned thievery and an opportunity for the privileged to claim a psychological motive for criminal misbehavior.

There is a popular belief that some of the criminal laws under which the poor are rigorously punished are susceptible of remarkable elasticity when the peccadilloes of the rich are brought under judgment, and that there is some truth in the old adage which declares that "one man may steal a horse where another dare not look over the hedge." This unwholesome distrust is not likely to diminish if, in cases of criminal prosecutions where so-called respectable persons commit theft without sufficiently obvious motive for the act, they have their crime extenuated on the plea of kleptomania, as has recently occurred in several notable instances. ["Kleptomania," "The Lancet," Nov. 16, 1861]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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kleptomania in Medicine

kleptomania klep·to·ma·ni·a (klěp'tə-mā'nē-ə, -mān'yə)
An obsessive impulse to steal regardless of economic need, usually arising from an unconscious symbolic value associated with the stolen item.

klep'to·ma'ni·ac' (-nē-āk') adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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kleptomania in Culture
kleptomania [(klep-tuh-may-nee-uh)]

A compulsion to steal, usually without either economic need or personal desire.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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