[ theev ]
/ θiv /
Save This Word!
See synonyms for: thieve / thieves / thieving on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object), thieved, thiev·ing.
to take by theft; steal.
verb (used without object), thieved, thiev·ing.
to act as a thief; commit theft; steal.
Should you take this quiz on “shall” versus “should”? It should prove to be a quick challenge!
Question 1 of 6
Which form is used to state an obligation or duty someone has?

Origin of thieve

before 950; Old English thēofian, derivative of theōfthief (not recorded in ME)


thiev·ing·ly, adverboutthieve, verb (used with object), out·thieved, out·thiev·ing.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does thieve mean?

To thieve is to steal—to commit theft.

A person who thieves is a thief. The words thief and theft are often used in situations in which a person steals in secret and without using force or violence. However, the word thieve is used in the context of all kinds of thefts, even violent ones. Thieve often implies that such thieving is done habitually or as part of a criminal lifestyle.

The related word thievery can mean the same thing as theft, but it typically refers to the practice of thieving—thieves lead a life of thieving and thievery.

Thieve is sometimes followed by the thing that will be or has been stolen, as in I just realized my kids have been thieving the coins from the fountain. 

Thieve should not be confused with a form of the noun thief or its plural, thieves.

Example: He is a pirate, a rogue—he thieves and plunders without remorse.

Where does thieve come from?

The first records of the word thieve come from before 950. It comes from the Old English thēofian.

A person who thieves or has a tendency to thieve can be described as thievish or thieving, as in Come back here, you lying, thieving rapscallion! Thieve and related words like thievery and thieving can sometimes sound a bit old-timey, like they’re out of a classic adventure novel.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to thieve?

What are some synonyms for thieve?

What are some words that share a root or word element with thieve


What are some words that often get used in discussing thieve?

How is thieve used in real life?

Thieve is not commonly used. When it is, it often implies that the person doing the thieving does so as part of leading a life of crime.

Try using thieve!

Which of the following actions could be considered a case of thieving?

A. shoplifting
B. pickpocketing
C. bank robbery
D. all of the above

How to use thieve in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for thieve

/ (θiːv) /

to steal (someone's possessions)

Derived forms of thieve

thievery, noun

Word Origin for thieve

Old English thēofian, from thēof thief
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