noun, plural thieves.
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Origin of thief
synonym study for thief
OTHER WORDS FROM thiefun·der·thief, noun, plural un·der·thieves.
WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH thiefrobber, thief (see synonym study at the current entry)
Words nearby thief
What does thief mean?
A thief is a person who steals, especially in secret and without using force or violence.
The plural of thief is thieves. The related noun theft refers to the act or an instance of stealing.
In general, intentionally taking something that doesn’t belong to you makes you a thief. The word most commonly refers to a person who steals money or physical property, but a thief can steal other things, such as ideas, information, or intellectual property.
The word thief typically refers to a person who steals without anyone noticing, at least not when the theft is taking place. In contrast, a person who steals by using force, violence, or threats of force or violence would more likely be called a robber. Still, the word thief is used generally to refer to someone who steals. In this way, a robber is a kind of thief.
Most instances of theft are crimes, but a person might still be called a thief if they’ve committed a theft that won’t get them arrested. You might call your sibling a thief when they steal a cookie from your plate, for example.
Example: I don’t care that he only stole a few things—he stole them, and that makes him a thief.
Where does thief come from?
The first records of the word thief come from before the year 900. It comes from the Old English thēof.
There is no shortage of ways to be a thief, and many of them have a specific name. Some thieves steal small things. A petty thief is someone who has a record of small thefts. A shoplifter is a thief who steals from retail stores. Some thieves steal valuable items. Art thieves, jewel thieves, and car thieves are common characters in pop culture. A pickpocket is a thief who steals things, such as wallets or watches, directly from people’s pockets or from their body.
A burglar is a thief who breaks into or otherwise unlawfully enters a home or business to steal valuables. However, while burglars might be called thieves in general, this type of theft is more likely to be labeled as robbery, since it also involves trespassing on someone’s property and invading their space.
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What are some other forms related to thief?
- thieves (plural)
- thievish (adjective)
What are some synonyms for thief?
What are some words that share a root or word element with thief?
What are some words that often get used in discussing thief?
How is thief used in real life?
Regardless of what they’re thought to have stolen, calling someone a thief is a serious accusation.
One time my brother was in the middle of moving, and had a storage unit. It was broken into, and the thief stole some of the artwork I'd given him…but not all of it.
I feel that's the harshest critique I've ever gotten
— looselybased (@hilarrifying) December 9, 2020
Talk about being a Grinch. A thief stole the car of a kind-hearted 75-year-old woman this morning who had stopped by a food pantry to make a donation. https://t.co/pcYVwveGJ6
— Dan Plutchak (@DanPlutchak) November 25, 2020
Might get a black turtleneck and a bandit mask and become a 1960’s cartoon jewel thief.
— Justin Staggs Ⓥ (@Staggfilms) December 8, 2020
Try using thief!
Which of the following people could be considered a thief?
A. a shoplifter
B. a pickpocket
C. a person who steals your idea
D. all of the above
Example sentences from the Web for thief
The bee thieves come at night, swooping in and bugging out quicker than the wings of the insects they steal.Bee theft is almost a perfect crime—but there’s a new sheriff in town|Andrew Zaleski|February 9, 2021|Popular Science
Protestors chanted “Navalny we are with you” and “Putin is a thief!”.'The Whole System Needs Changing.' The Russia Protests Are About More Than Just Alexei Navalny|Madeline Roache|February 5, 2021|Time
Pretending to be a fur thief, he helped gather evidence leading to the indictment of 24 prison guards.Jack Palladino, aggressive sleuth who worked for Bill Clinton campaign, dies at 76|Harrison Smith|February 2, 2021|Washington Post
Participants identify the word “wrong” faster when it’s preceded by a strongly associated word like “right” than when it’s preceded by a weakly related word like “thief.”
That’s when an idea hit him — the thief might have stolen the bike because they’re in short supply during the coronavirus pandemic.Today in D.C.: Headlines to start your Monday in D.C., Maryland and Virginia|Teddy Amenabar, Justin Wm. Moyer|January 11, 2021|Washington Post
Dear Thief is worthy of the abused critical adjectives philosophical, atmospheric, and masterful.
Rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief, doctor, lawyer, Indian chief, and all that.
All a thief had to do was take off the dial knob on the safe and place the little joker on inside of it.
After stealing 97 rare maps, serial map thief E. Forbes Smiley III was caught in the act.
Cole was clearly experimenting with this, the signature curve of his storytelling, while writing Every Day Is for the Thief.Teju Cole’s Keen Eye Spares No One—Himself Included|Benjamin Lytal|July 9, 2014|DAILY BEAST
He had seen the act committed, he felt sure but had made no effort whatever to stop the thief.The Homesteader|Oscar Micheaux
Why should not the thief have simply entered by the window of the study, which like the kitchen, was on the ground floor?The Joyous Adventures of Aristide Pujol|William J. Locke
Oliver coloured involuntarily to find that the old thief had been reading his thoughts; but boldly said, Yes, he did want to know.Oliver Twist, Vol. II (of 3)|Charles Dickens
The blind man, missing his money, suspected who was the thief; but to accuse him would serve no purpose.
But, as many people know, and all may believe, running in a crowded London street is difficult—even to an expert London thief.The Garret and the Garden|R.M. Ballantyne