- an irresistible impulse to steal, stemming from emotional disturbance rather than economic need.
Origin of kleptomania
Examples from the Web for kleptomania
A euphemism of kleptomania had been offered and accepted as sufficient excuse for her crime.Within the Law
Had Pistol lived in these days he would have said, 'Kleptomania the wise it call.'The Book-Hunter in London
The victim of kleptomania will steal any and everything; they are like magpies in this respect.Religion and Lust
One man is afflicted with colour-blindness, another with kleptomania.Not Guilty
It may be kleptomania,—God knows; but whatever it is, she threw off all disguise.'Laramie;'
- psychol a strong impulse to steal, esp when there is no obvious motivation
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]
- An obsessive impulse to steal regardless of economic need, usually arising from an unconscious symbolic value associated with the stolen item.
A compulsion to steal, usually without either economic need or personal desire.