[ pil-fer ]
/ ˈpɪl fər /

verb (used with or without object)

to steal, especially in small quantities.

Nearby words

  1. piles,
  2. pileum,
  3. pileup,
  4. pileus,
  5. pilewort,
  6. pilferage,
  7. pilgarlic,
  8. pilgrim,
  9. pilgrim bottle,
  10. pilgrim fathers

Origin of pilfer

1540–50; v. use of late Middle English pilfre booty < Middle French pelfre. See pelf

Related formspil·fer·er, nounun·pil·fered, adjective

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

Examples from the Web for pilfer

British Dictionary definitions for pilfer


/ (ˈpɪlfə) /


to steal (minor items), esp in small quantities
Derived Formspilferer, nounpilfering, noun

Word Origin for pilfer

C14 pylfre (n) from Old French pelfre booty; see pelf

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 pilfer



1540s, from pilfer (n.) "spoils, booty," c.1400, from Old French pelfre "booty, spoils" (11c.), of unknown origin, possibly related to pelf. Related: Pilfered; pilfering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper