verb (used with object), stole, sto·len, steal·ing.

verb (used without object), stole, sto·len, steal·ing.



    steal someone's thunder, to appropriate or use another's idea, plan, words, etc.

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

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

to take (something) from someone, etc without permission or unlawfully, esp in a secret manner
(tr) to obtain surreptitiously
(tr) to appropriate (ideas, etc) without acknowledgment, as in plagiarism
to move or convey stealthilythey stole along the corridor
(intr) to pass unnoticedthe hours stole by
(tr) to win or gain by strategy or luck, as in various sportsto steal a few yards
steal a march on to obtain an advantage over, esp by a secret or underhand measure
steal someone's thunder to detract from the attention due to another by forestalling him
steal the show to be looked upon as the most interesting, popular, etc, esp unexpectedly

noun informal

the act of stealing
something stolen or acquired easily or at little cost

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.


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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

steal in Medicine




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