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verb (used with object), em·bez·zled, em·bez·zling.
  1. to appropriate fraudulently to one's own use, as money or property entrusted to one's care.
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Origin of embezzle

1375–1425; late Middle English embesilen < Anglo-French embeseiller to destroy, make away with, equivalent to em- em-1 + beseiller, Old French beseiller to destroy < ?
Related formsem·bez·zle·ment, nounem·bez·zler, nounnon·em·bez·zle·ment, nounun·em·bez·zled, adjective


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for embezzlement


  1. to convert (money or property entrusted to one) fraudulently to one's own use
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Derived Formsembezzlement, nounembezzler, noun

Word Origin

C15: from Anglo-French embeseiller to destroy, from Old French beseiller to make away with, of uncertain origin
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

Word Origin and History for embezzlement


1540s, from embezzle + -ment.

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early 15c., from Anglo-French embesiler "to steal, cause to disappear" (c.1300), from Old French em- (see en- (1)) + besillier "torment, destroy, gouge," of unknown origin. Sense of "to dispose of fraudulently" is first recorded 1580s. Related: Embezzled; embezzling.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

embezzlement in Culture


The stealing of money entrusted to one's care: “The treasurer of the company embezzled a million dollars.”

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