steal


steal
steal, *pilfer, filch, purloin, lift, pinch, snitch, swipe, cop are comparable when they mean to take another's possession without right and without his knowledge or permission.
Steal, the commonest and most general of the group, can refer to any act of taking without right, although it suggests strongly a furtiveness or secrecy in the act
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steal a pocketbook

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steal jewels

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steal a kiss

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steal a glance at someone

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Pilfer suggests stealing in small amounts or with cautious stealth and often bit by bit
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the pantry mouse that pilfers our foodGustafson et al

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the ladies of unexceptionable position who are caught pilfering furs in shops— L. P. Smith

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pilfer the secret files of the foreign office— Morgenthau

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Filch is close to pilfer but may suggest more strongly the use of active though surreptitious means, especially quick snatching
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in pursuit of a thief who had filched an overcoat— McKenzie Porter

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a lot of fellows were too hungry to wait, and so some of the rations were filchedAutry

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a bulky, dark youth in spectacles . . . filching biscuits from a large tin— Sayers

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Purloin usually shifts the stress onto the idea of removal or making away with for one's own use, often becoming generalized to include such acts as plundering or plagiarism
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had purloined $386,920 from the New York realty management firm for which he worked, then absconded— Time

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added theft to her other sin, and having found your watch in your bedroom had purloined it— Butler d. 1902

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to quote him is not to purloinDryden

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Lift, when it does not mean specifically to steal by surreptitiously taking from counters or displays in stores, is used frequently in spoken English in the sense of purloin
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women shoplifters often work in gangs of three. Two act as shields while the third does the liftingThe Irish Digest

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lift money from the cash register

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imitators who lifted everything except the shirt off his back— F. S. Fitzgerald

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Pinch, swipe, snitch, and cop are virtually interchangeable with filch.
Pinch and swipe are often used in place of steal to suggest an act morally less reprehensible
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loot having been pinched by him from the British ship Mary Dyer—Sydney Bulletin

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or sometimes more dashing
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well-dressed crooks really did steal the Gold Cup at Ascot . . . drove up in a handsome car . . . and pinched the cup out of the Royal Enclosure— J. D. Carr

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the bloke who pinched my photographs— Richard Llewellyn

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and occasionally to suggest a petty meanness
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Covering outside the dying butler's bedroom waiting to . . . pop in and swipe the old man's private notebooks— Time

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Snitch possibly stresses more the removal by quick, furtive snatching
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while he was bathing, somebody snitched his uniform— Wodehouse

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snitched people's ideas without telling them— Sayers

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Cop usually lays stress upon quick, often spur-of-the-moment filching or purloining
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some woman put on a dinner gown, mingled with guests, copped fifty thousand bucks in jewelry— Gardner

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ran home and copped a piece of beefsteak from his old lady— Farrell

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Analogous words: *rob, plunder, rifle, loot, burglarize

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • steal´er — steal «steel», verb, stole, sto|len, steal|ing, noun. –v.t. 1. to take (something) that does not belong to one; take dishonestly: »Robbers stole the money. Who steals my purse, st …   Useful english dictionary

  • Steal — (st[=e]l), v. t. [imp. {Stole} (st[=o]l); p. p. {Stolen} (st[=o] l n); p. pr. & vb. n. {Stealing}.] [OE. stelen, AS. stelan; akin to OFries. stela, D. stelen, OHG. stelan, G. stehlen, Icel. stela, SW. stj[ a]la, Dan. sti[ae]le, Goth. stilan.] 1.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • steal — ► VERB (past stole; past part. stolen) 1) take (something) without permission or legal right and without intending to return it. 2) give or take surreptitiously or without permission: I stole a look at my watch. 3) move somewhere quietly or… …   English terms dictionary

  • steal — [stēl] vt. stole, stolen, stealing [ME stelen < OE stælan, akin to Ger stehlen, prob. altered < IE base * ster , to rob > Gr sterein, to rob] 1. to take or appropriate (another s property, ideas, etc.) without permission, dishonestly, or …   English World dictionary

  • steal — vt stole, sto·len, steal·ing [Old English stelan]: to take or appropriate without right or consent and with intent to keep or make use of see also robbery, theft Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996 …   Law dictionary

  • steal — steal; steal·able; steal·age; steal·er; steal·ing·ly; …   English syllables

  • Steal — (st[=e]l), v. i. 1. To practice, or be guilty of, theft; to commit larceny or theft. [1913 Webster] Thou shalt not steal. Ex. xx. 15. [1913 Webster] 2. To withdraw, or pass privily; to slip in, along, or away, unperceived; to go or come furtively …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Steal — may refer to: * Theft * The gaining of a stolen base in baseball * Steal (basketball), a situation when the defensive player actively takes possession of the ball from the opponent s team * In professional sports, a steal is a draft pick who… …   Wikipedia

  • steal — O.E. stelan to commit a theft (class IV strong verb; past tense stæl, pp. stolen), from P.Gmc. *stelanan (Cf. O.S. stelan, O.N., O.Fris. stela, Du. stelen, O.H.G. stelan, Ger. stehlen, Goth. stilan), of unknown origin. Most IE words for steal… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Steal — (st[=e]l), n. [See {Stale} a handle.] A handle; a stale, or stele. [Archaic or Prov. Eng.] [1913 Webster] And in his hand a huge poleax did bear. Whose steale was iron studded but not long. Spenser. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English


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