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pilfer

[pil-fer] /ˈpɪl fər/
verb (used with or without object)
1.
to steal, especially in small quantities.
Origin of pilfer
late Middle English
1540-1550
1540-50; v. use of late Middle English pilfre booty < Middle French pelfre. See pelf
Related forms
pilferer, noun
unpilfered, adjective
Synonyms
thieve, purloin, filch, appropriate.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for pilfer
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He had some sort of an idea that he might pilfer the hospitality of his enemies.

    The Eyes of the Woods

    Joseph A. Altsheler
  • The women make baskets, beg, pilfer, or sift and grind corn.

    Gipsy Life George Smith
  • I have been shown the best spots, and I pilfer as well as I can—that is all.

    Myths of the Rhine X. B. Saintine
  • If they win, they grab at booty; if they lose, they unhorse and pilfer their own side!

    The Bbur-nma in English

    Babur, Emperor of Hindustan
  • At all events, if she did pilfer, she was neither suspected nor discovered.

  • The movements of the red-haired girl were not those of one who sought to pilfer.

    A Book of Ghosts Sabine Baring-Gould
  • I suspect he has a plot with his apprentices to pilfer a portion of the metal.

  • The central idea of this modern folly about the potato is that you must pilfer the root.

    Custom and Myth Andrew Lang
  • The canonesses claim that we pilfer their friends away from them.

    The Iron Pincers Eugne Sue
British Dictionary definitions for pilfer

pilfer

/ˈpɪlfə/
verb
1.
to steal (minor items), esp in small quantities
Derived Forms
pilferer, noun
pilfering, noun
Word Origin
C14 pylfre (n) from Old French pelfre booty; see pelf
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 pilfer
v.

1540s, from pilfer (n.) "spoils, booty," c.1400, from Old French pelfre "booty, spoils" (11c.), of unknown origin, possibly related to pelf. Related: Pilfered; pilfering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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11
13
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