- to take something from (someone) by unlawful force or threat of violence; steal from.
- to deprive (someone) of some right or something legally due: They robbed her of her inheritance.
- to plunder or rifle (a house, shop, etc.).
- to deprive of something unjustly or injuriously: The team was robbed of a home run hitter when the umpire called it a foul ball. The shock robbed him of his speech.
- Mining. to remove ore or coal from (a pillar).
- to commit or practice robbery.
- rob Peter to pay Paul, to take something from one person or thing to pay one's debt or hypothetical debt to another, as to sacrifice one's health by overworking.
Origin of rob
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
- (tr) to take something from (someone) illegally, as by force or threat of violence
- to plunder (a house, shop, etc)
- (tr) to deprive unjustlyto be robbed of an opportunity
Word Origin and History for rob peter to pay paul
late 12c., from Old French rober "rob, steal, pillage, ransack, rape," from West Germanic *rauba "booty" (cf. Old High German roubon "to rob," roub "spoil, plunder;" Old English reafian, source of the reave in bereave), from Proto-Germanic *raubon "to rob," from PIE *reup-, *reub- "to snatch" (see rip (v.)).
Lord, hou schulde God approve þat þou robbe Petur, and gif þis robbere to Poule in þe name of Crist? [Wyclif, c.1380]
To rob the cradle is attested from 1864 in reference to drafting young men in the American Civil War; by 1949 in reference to seductions or romantic relationships with younger persons. Related: Robbed; robbing.
rob Peter to pay Paul
To harm one person in order to do good to another; by extension, to use money or resources set aside for one purpose for a different one.
Idioms and Phrases with rob peter to pay paul
rob Peter to pay Paul
Take from one to give to another, shift resources. For example, They took out a second mortgage on their house so they could buy a condo in Florida—they're robbing Peter to pay Paul. Although legend has it that this expression alludes to appropriating the estates of St. Peter's Church, in Westminster, London, to pay for the repairs of St. Paul's Cathedral in the 1800s, the saying first appeared in a work by John Wycliffe about 1382.