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[theft] /θɛft/
the act of stealing; the wrongful taking and carrying away of the personal goods or property of another; larceny.
an instance of this.
Archaic. something stolen.
Origin of theft
before 900; Middle English; Old English thēfth, thēofth; see thief, -th1; cognate with Old Norse thȳfth, obsolete Dutch diefte
Related forms
antitheft, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for theft
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It was the first time in many years that one of the employees had been thus accused of theft.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • What has all this to do with the question of theft in the store?

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • Was he not a criminal—was he not about to leave his position because of theft?

    Thoroughbreds W. A. Fraser
  • It was nocturnal in its habits, and somewhat addicted to dancing and the theft of children.

    The Devil's Dictionary Ambrose Bierce
  • The theft of old Galloway's bank-note has been traced to Arthur Channing.

    The Channings Mrs. Henry Wood
British Dictionary definitions for theft


(criminal law) the dishonest taking of property belonging to another person with the intention of depriving the owner permanently of its possession
(rare) something stolen
Derived Forms
theftless, adjective
Word Origin
Old English thēofth; related to Old Norse thӯfth, Old Frisian thiūvethe, Middle Dutch düfte; see thief
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 theft

Old English þeofð (West Saxon þiefð), from Proto-Germanic *theubitho (cf. Old Frisian thiufthe, Old Norse þyfð), from *theubaz "thief" (see thief) + suffix -itha (cognate with Latin -itatem).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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