verb (used with object), em·bez·zled, em·bez·zling.

to appropriate fraudulently to one's own use, as money or property entrusted to one's care.

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

Synonyms for embezzle

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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Contemporary Examples of embezzlement

Historical Examples of embezzlement

British Dictionary definitions for embezzlement



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

Word Origin for embezzle

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.



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.

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.”

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.