from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. One who steals, especially by stealth.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. One who has carried out a theft.
  • n. A waster in the snuff of a candle.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. One who steals; one who commits theft or larceny. See theft.
  • n. A waster in the snuff of a candle.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A person who steals, or is guilty of larceny or robbery; one who takes the goods or property of another without the owner's knowledge or consent; especially, one who deprives another of property secretly or without open force, as opposed to a robber, who openly uses violence.
  • n. A person guilty of cunning or deceitful acts; a lawless person; an evil-doer: used in reproach.
  • n. An imperfection in the wick of a candle, causing it to gutter.
  • n. A tin can to which a small line or becket is attached, used as a drinking-cup by sailors. It is made heavier on one side, so that it will capsize when it is dropped in the water.
  • n. A thief-tube.
  • n. Same as hermit-crab.
  • n. Synonyms Pilferer, Pirate (see robber), pickpocket, cutpurse. See pillage, n.
  • n. The bramble Rubus fruticosus. Compare theve-thorn.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a criminal who takes property belonging to someone else with the intention of keeping it or selling it


Middle English, from Old English thēof.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old English þēof, from Proto-Germanic *þeubaz. (Wiktionary)



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  • I say that no one in this caravan is awake
    and that while you sleep, a thief is stealing

    the signs and symbols of what you thought
    was your life. Now you're angry with me for

    telling you this! Pay attention to those who
    hurt your feelings telling you the truth.

    - Rumi, 'Ghazal 1134', version by Coleman Barks with Nevit Ergin in 'The Glance'.

    October 17, 2008