Definition of thief in English:



  • A person who steals another person's property, especially by stealth and without using force or threat of violence.

    ‘thieves broke into a house on York Close’
    ‘car thieves’
    ‘the thief stole the drugs from a doctor's surgery’
    • ‘Make a car thief a lottery millionaire and it will not immediately improve his sense of etiquette.’
    • ‘Perhaps the thief hid the box until it was safe for him to take it to another area.’
    • ‘Amazingly, he was left unscathed after being thrown onto the road when the thief refused to stop.’
    • ‘When she took the paper bag from the car the thief snatched it from her grasp and fled.’
    • ‘The thief then grabbed her purse as the shocked pensioner raised the alarm by shouting to her husband.’
    • ‘Police were today searching for a thief who snatched hundreds of pounds from a busy shop in Walton.’
    • ‘Police today warned store bosses to be aware of a violent thief working in the area.’
    • ‘A by-stander eventually broke up what he thought was a fight and the thief escaped.’
    • ‘The occupant was in another room when the thief struck, snatching the bag from a table in the living room.’
    • ‘As he tried to stop the car, the thief drove off with the passenger door open.’
    • ‘Swindon police say that he was away from his bike, delivering a letter, when the thief took the bag.’
    • ‘Against the odds he survives to become a car thief in Miami, all the while plotting his revenge.’
    • ‘A young mother was dragged to her knees by a would-be thief who tried to steal her handbag.’
    • ‘They had accused her of stealing, saying she was a thief and was stealing their things.’
    • ‘He was asked to lock the door if he left the premises but he failed to do so, and a thief entered and stole some jewellery.’
    • ‘The thief defrauded banks and building societies and left a trail of unpaid bills.’
    • ‘Because the code keeps changing, it's impossible for a car thief to grab the correct one.’
    • ‘Police are mystified as to how the thief managed to open the vehicle without using force.’
    • ‘A woman dashed out of her house in her pyjamas to disturb a thief who was using a tow truck to try to steal her car.’
    • ‘He was visiting the gym when the thief followed him in, broke into his locker and stole his keys.’
    robber, burglar, housebreaker, cat burglar, shoplifter, pickpocket, sneak thief, mugger, larcenist, stealer, pilferer, poacher
    embezzler, swindler
    criminal, villain
    raider, looter, plunderer, pillager, marauder
    bandit, brigand, pirate, highwayman
    crook, cracksman, steamer
    yegg, second-story man, second-story worker
    tea leaf
    cutpurse, pickpurse, footpad, lurcher
    peculator, defalcator
    View synonyms


Old English thīof, thēof, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch dief and German Dieb, also to theft.