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See more synonyms for steal on Thesaurus.com
verb (used with object), stole, sto·len, steal·ing.
  1. to take (the property of another or others) without permission or right, especially secretly or by force: A pickpocket stole his watch.
  2. to appropriate (ideas, credit, words, etc.) without right or acknowledgment.
  3. to take, get, or win insidiously, surreptitiously, subtly, or by chance: He stole my girlfriend.
  4. to move, bring, convey, or put secretly or quietly; smuggle (usually followed by away, from, in, into, etc.): They stole the bicycle into the bedroom to surprise the child.
  5. Baseball. (of a base runner) to gain (a base) without the help of a walk or batted ball, as by running to it during the delivery of a pitch.
  6. Games. to gain (a point, advantage, etc.) by strategy, chance, or luck.
  7. to gain or seize more than one's share of attention in, as by giving a superior performance: The comedian stole the show.
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verb (used without object), stole, sto·len, steal·ing.
  1. to commit or practice theft.
  2. to move, go, or come secretly, quietly, or unobserved: She stole out of the house at midnight.
  3. to pass, happen, etc., imperceptibly, gently, or gradually: The years steal by.
  4. Baseball. (of a base runner) to advance a base without the help of a walk or batted ball.
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  1. Informal. an act of stealing; theft.
  2. Informal. the thing stolen; booty.
  3. Informal. something acquired at a cost far below its real value; bargain: This dress is a steal at $40.
  4. Baseball. the act of advancing a base by stealing.
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  1. steal someone's thunder, to appropriate or use another's idea, plan, words, etc.
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Origin of steal

before 900; 1860–65 for def 5; Middle English stelen, Old English stelan; cognate with German stehlen, Old Norse stela, Gothic stilan
Related formssteal·a·ble, adjectivesteal·er, nounnon·steal·a·ble, adjectiveout·steal, verb (used with object), out·stole, out·sto·len, out·steal·ing.
Can be confusedburglarize mug rip off rob steal (see synonym study at rob)steal steel stele
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for steal

pilfer, kidnap, swipe, remove, keep, plunder, take, strip, embezzle, loot, abduct, divert, ransack, cheat, rifle, sack, appropriate, defraud, thieve, purloin

Examples from the Web for steal

Contemporary Examples of steal

Historical Examples of steal

  • If I cannot find one, I will earn, beg or steal the money to get them printed.

    Ballads of a Bohemian

    Robert W. Service

  • I steal into his sleep, and play my part among the figures of his dreams.

    Other Tales and Sketches

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • It never occurred to her that the girl might have been tempted to steal—and had not resisted the temptation.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • There are hundreds of them who steal because they don't get enough to eat.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • Sleep did not steal upon the sisters at one and the same time.

    The Wives of The Dead

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

British Dictionary definitions for steal


verb steals, stealing, stole or stolen
  1. to take (something) from someone, etc without permission or unlawfully, esp in a secret manner
  2. (tr) to obtain surreptitiously
  3. (tr) to appropriate (ideas, etc) without acknowledgment, as in plagiarism
  4. to move or convey stealthilythey stole along the corridor
  5. (intr) to pass unnoticedthe hours stole by
  6. (tr) to win or gain by strategy or luck, as in various sportsto steal a few yards
  7. steal a march on to obtain an advantage over, esp by a secret or underhand measure
  8. steal someone's thunder to detract from the attention due to another by forestalling him
  9. steal the show to be looked upon as the most interesting, popular, etc, esp unexpectedly
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noun informal
  1. the act of stealing
  2. something stolen or acquired easily or at little cost
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Word Origin for steal

Old English stelan; related to Old Frisian, Old Norse stela Gothic stilan, German stehlen
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 steal


Old English stelan "to commit a theft" (class IV strong verb; past tense stæl, past participle stolen), from Proto-Germanic *stelanan (cf. Old Saxon stelan, Old Norse, Old Frisian stela, Dutch stelen, Old High German stelan, German stehlen, Gothic stilan), of unknown origin.

Most IE words for steal have roots in notions of "hide," "carry off," or "collect, heap up." Attested as a verb of stealthy motion from c.1300 (e.g. to steal away, late 14c.); of glances, sighs, etc., from 1580s. To steal (someone) blind first recorded 1974.

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"a bargain," by 1942, American English colloquial, from steal (v.). Baseball sense of "a stolen base" is from 1867.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

steal in Medicine


  1. The diversion of blood flow from its normal course.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.