verb (used with object)

to steal (especially something of small value); pilfer: to filch ashtrays from fancy restaurants.

Origin of filch

1250–1300; Middle English filchen to attack (in a body), take as booty, Old English fylcian to marshal (troops), draw (soldiers) up in battle array, derivative of gefylce band of men; akin to folk
Related formsfilch·er, nounfilch·ing·ly, adverbun·filched, adjective

Synonyms for filch Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for filch

Contemporary Examples of filch

  • For Nixon, it was the Watergate break-in, designed to filch political plans of his 1972 foes.

    The Daily Beast logo
    How Iraq Became Obama’s War

    Jeff Greenfield

    July 6, 2014

Historical Examples of filch

  • You are to receive the money, and share it with the scoundrel who intends to filch it from me.

    Freaks of Fortune

    Oliver Optic

  • He was ashamed that he had permitted the years that had gone to filch so much from him.

    A Handful of Stars

    Frank W. Boreham

  • The knave might filch his treasures; he was heedless of the knave.


    William Makepeace Thackeray

  • So you filch sixpence out of my purse while I'm taking the clothes in.

    Sons and Lovers

    David Herbert Lawrence

  • Come, Filch, you shall go with me into my own Room, and tell me the whole Story.

British Dictionary definitions for filch



(tr) to steal or take surreptitiously in small amounts; pilfer
Derived Formsfilcher, noun

Word Origin for filch

C16 filchen to steal, attack, perhaps from Old English gefylce band of men
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 filch

"steal," 1560s, slang, perhaps from c.1300 filchen "to snatch, take as booty," of unknown origin. Liberman says filch is probably from German filzen "comb through." Related: Filched; filching.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper