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verb (used with or without object)
  1. to steal, especially in small quantities.
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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

Synonyms for pilfer

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

Related Words for pilfering

purloin, filch, swipe, cop, crib, annex, pinch, rob, thieve, borrow, pluck, snatch, moonlight, appropriate, lift, take, scrounge, snare, liberate, requisition

Examples from the Web for pilfering

Contemporary Examples of pilfering

Historical Examples of pilfering

British Dictionary definitions for pilfering


  1. to steal (minor items), esp in small quantities
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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 pilfering



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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper