American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- v. To steal (a small amount or item). See Synonyms at steal.
- v. To steal or filch.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- To steal in small quantities; practise petty theft.
- To steal or gain by petty theft; filch.
GNU Webster's 1913
- v. To steal in small quantities, or articles of small value; to practice petty theft.
- v. To take by petty theft; to filch; to steal little by little.
- v. make off with belongings of others
- From Middle English pilfre ("booty"), from Old French pelfre ("plunder, booty, spoils"), of unknown origin. Possibly related to pelf. (Wiktionary)
- From Middle English pilfre, spoils, from Old French pelfre. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“If I had wanted to 'pilfer' your correspondence, which was with me for some ten years, would it not have been easier (and more discreet) for me to make photocopies of the letters I wanted to keep and send you back all your originals intact?”
“First Sailosi Tagicakibau fumbled a difficult pass 10 yards out with three blue shirts around him and only one red one in front before George Stowers got to the line, but could not get the ball down, leaving Shane Williams to somehow pilfer the ball from the pile of bodies which piled on the No8.”
“I can't tell you what a relief it will be to just throw away my plastic water bottles (made from petroleum products -- who cares now?) instead of tossing them into recycling for some homeless guy to pilfer.”
“Perhaps he was trying to pilfer as much as possible before conceding.”
“Police say that during his first offense, Calandrella used keys stolen from lock boxes to pilfer more than 50 items, which he promptly listed on eBay, KSDK reports.”
“As Devin describes, Leonardo DiCaprio plays an Extractor, which is essentially an agent that can insert himself into the dreams of other people, in order to pilfer ideas from their subconscious.”
“Sure, it was funny to confuse Mabe the Shopkeeper and pilfer his wares.”
“It's illegal under U.S. law to steal corporate secrets from other companies, and there is less incentive for U.S. companies to pilfer from countries that are less developed.”
“Yes, the classic Yuletide punchline confection is what the fortunate 600 who have been invited to the wedding luncheon reception of the century will have to force down at the end of the event before they attempt to pilfer the flower arrangements on their tables to take home.”
“Police come in and grab every pilfer-able item they can.”
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