Definition of steal in US English:



  • 1with object Take (another person's property) without permission or legal right and without intending to return it.

    ‘thieves stole her bicycle’
    ‘stolen goods’
    no object ‘she was found guilty of stealing from her employers’
    • ‘The numbers are then held on a database which is only accessible to the police, so that stolen property can be identified and returned to its owner.’
    • ‘Those who are fans of gangster movies will know that the practice of selling stolen property is known as fencing.’
    • ‘Police have warned householders not to leave easy pickings for burglars following a spate of crimes where property was stolen after windows and doors were left unlocked.’
    • ‘Any sensible legal system has to rely in part on sanctions brought to bear after people have stolen property or looted corporations.’
    • ‘A 72-year-old grandfather has been convicted after police investigating a ram-raid gang found stolen property at his home.’
    • ‘All three were charged with stealing personal property in broad daylight and causing a nuisance to society.’
    • ‘Where property is stolen, no beneficial interest passes to the thief.’
    • ‘On the night of 6-7 February 1988 the flat was burgled and a considerable amount of property was stolen.’
    • ‘The villain who was stealing the property was let off by the police.’
    • ‘Documents, purses and property were stolen in a spate of attacks.’
    • ‘Also charged with burglary and handling stolen property, Irvine was refused bail because of an irregularity in his visa.’
    • ‘An officer arrived the next day just as the builders discovered the thieves had returned and stolen some of the new tiles.’
    • ‘Music companies are the first to wage a wide-scale attack against people who steal digital property over the Net.’
    • ‘In instances where property is stolen, thieves can and will be traced, and dealt with accordingly.’
    • ‘He was found guilty of the charge of receiving stolen property and received a 30-day jail sentence, which was suspended.’
    • ‘He said police would like to hear from anyone with information about burglaries or stolen property.’
    • ‘If you rent, buy renter's insurance, which pays for damaged, destroyed or stolen personal property.’
    • ‘Each is charged with seven felony counts of selling stolen property.’
    • ‘The newspaper was trying to stir up a row about the morality of allowing criminals to ransom stolen property.’
    theft, thieving, thievery, robbery, larceny, burglary, shoplifting, pilfering, pilferage, looting, appropriation, misappropriation
    purloin, thieve, take, take for oneself, help oneself to, loot, pilfer, abscond with, run off with, appropriate, abstract, carry off, shoplift
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    1. 1.1 Dishonestly pass off (another person's ideas) as one's own.
      ‘accusations that one group had stolen ideas from the other were soon flying’
      • ‘I can't tell you too many details, cos someone out there might steal my ideas before I have time to finish my recipe book!’
      • ‘Their greatest fear: someone else might steal their idea.’
      • ‘One of the advantages of being a manager with responsibility for appointing staff is that you get to see lots of other people's CVs and can steal good ideas for presentation and phraseology.’
      • ‘So, instead, like all good creative types, I stole an idea.’
      • ‘I wonder how long it will take for the government to steal the idea and start pushing it?’
      • ‘Research institutions that would normally be loath to patent are doing so defensively in order to prevent the corpocrats stealing their ideas.’
      • ‘So in the time-honoured tradition of capitalism, I'm going to steal their idea and offer my own solutions, at a cut rate of course.’
      • ‘I'm not saying what it's about because I don't want anyone to steal the idea.’
      • ‘The idea is stolen wholesale from the United States, where civic engagement is a part of everyday life and local democracy a thriving concept.’
      • ‘A judge at the High Court in London rejected allegations by two historians that Brown had stolen ideas from their book The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail.’
      • ‘Not only that, they are more likely to take bribes, sleep their way to the top, steal the ideas of a colleague and pass them off as their own or to resort to character assassination.’
      • ‘Now, there's nothing wrong with recycling an idea from an artist you admire, so long as you're not simply stealing that idea and passing it off as your own.’
      • ‘If we let other countries steal those ideas from us and then make them at a fraction of the cost, you know, that is undercutting our industry.’
      • ‘‘We're not giving the details out at present because if we did that, others would steal the ideas before we launched,’ said Spowart.’
      • ‘But since you won't see that until midseason, Fox went ahead and stole the idea.’
      • ‘You definitely want to prevent anybody from stealing your brilliant idea.’
      • ‘I hope Peter Levinson doesn't mind too much if I steal his idea, but I just came across this quote, and it's too good to pass up.’
      • ‘Other manufacturers steal the idea and Stevenson loses a three-year court battle to have his patent honoured.’
      • ‘Headteachers are renowned for stealing good ideas from other schools and I am all for that.’
      • ‘Christofi refused to name the exact bacteria for fear rival microbiologists might steal the idea, which the university patented late last month.’
      plagiarize, copy, pass off as one's own, infringe the copyright of, pirate, poach, borrow, appropriate
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    2. 1.2 Take the opportunity to give or share (a kiss) when it is not expected or when people are not watching.
      ‘he was allowed to steal a kiss in the darkness’
      • ‘He was sure she was too overcome with emotion to answer, and while she sat in stunned silence, he stole a chaste kiss.’
      • ‘It all happened too quickly, the way he stole that tender first kiss.’
      • ‘Ben and Liz have been eyeing each other up for a while and during the afternoon they share a few sweet stolen kisses while Kristy dozes in the shade.’
      • ‘A Skipton man was fined by magistrates for assaulting a policewoman on the from Leeds train - by trying to steal a kiss.’
      • ‘She's a real tease, taunting him to steal a kiss or cop a feel.’
      • ‘Before Sasha could do anything, Dylan stole another kiss.’
      • ‘After they tackled the door and left, not a moment after, did the door reopen and Spencer stole another kiss.’
      • ‘He didn't give me a chance to answer before he pressed his lips against mine and stole a quick kiss.’
      • ‘After a few days, the curious glances and whispers subsided when students saw Mark and Joy holding hands or stealing a brief kiss in the hallways.’
      • ‘So as I walked through the tunnel beneath the platforms I saw Mary and Howard stealing their kiss and standing on the platform I remembered the moment the express train flew through.’
      • ‘Before entering the classroom, Darien stole a kiss, which Josie didn't refuse.’
      • ‘The young woman, whose first name was Elizabeth, blushed and stole a quick kiss.’
      • ‘Adam wrapped his arms around her waist and then gently stole a kiss.’
      • ‘As a matter of fact, the husband-to-be is even allowed to steal a kiss as he presents his wife-to-be with a bouquet of roses.’
      • ‘He would have stolen a kiss on her cheek, but she pulled away gently to smile at him.’
      • ‘She goes to a local dance, where she's swept off her feet by a handsome and worldly pilot who steals a kiss as they walk outside.’
      • ‘The puppy love story in the film - Chava falls in love with a girl more or less his age and they steal kisses once or twice - is too pat and conventional.’
      • ‘Brian took advantage of the opportunity to steal a quick kiss, only making her cheeks tun a brighter red.’
      • ‘In one of the rare moments of calmness, Joe sang Unchained Melody and some of the lucky ladies in the front row stole a kiss from Ireland's most eligible bachelor.’
      • ‘Now her boyfriend Adam Brown, 21, is keeping a close watch on possible rivals to make sure they don't try and steal a kiss from his girl.’
      snatch, sneak, obtain stealthily, get surreptitiously
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    3. 1.3 (in various sports) gain (an advantage, a run, or possession of the ball) unexpectedly or by exploiting the temporary distraction of an opponent.
      • ‘In the Triangular series being played in Australia Pakistan stole a run in the last ball of the match before the ball got to the keeper, to beat India by one run and thereby hangs a tale.’
      • ‘Henin-Hardenne gets right round the net post to steal advantage again and sweeps the ball past the Russian on the next point to break.’
      • ‘United's Chris Smith spotted a half-chance and raced in to steal possession and prod the ball home.’
      • ‘Every time he stole the ball, he would make a hurried turnover.’
      • ‘However, his colleagues failed him moments later, and to their cost, as the visitors stole an advantage.’
      • ‘They won their final five games, and since the rest of the conference went to sleep, they stole home-field advantage for the play-offs.’
      • ‘The last line of defence, Magnus Hedman, rushes out, gets down early and steals the ball of the Bayern striker's toe.’
      • ‘Scarborough failed to find their jumper in the line-out and Yarnbury stole possession.’
      • ‘Lauer added a deserved third eight minutes into the third period after Scott Allison had stolen possession and danced clear of Storm's bewildered defencemen.’
      • ‘Much of Keighley's good work was, however, wasted by careless play in the rucks which led to stolen possession by the eager Wheatley Hills forwards.’
      • ‘Scotland gave away a single steal in the sixth and then a further three in the seventh when Martin's last draw shot was too light and wrecked on front stones.’
      • ‘As in the first period Newbury started vigorously but it was Kern Yates who added to the score with a try after Sedgley stole the ball in a maul.’
      • ‘Back on court playing marking, Deenside managed a quick steal.’
      • ‘The line-out was stolen and the ball whipped out to Smith.’
      • ‘It wasn't long before the Cougars were over, Colin Pickles brilliantly stealing the ball in a one-on-one tackle and racing in at the corner.’
      • ‘Players can, however, steal the ball out of the hands of their opponents as long as they do not make contact with the player himself.’
      • ‘In a game, if the dribbler turns his back to the basket and his defender, the next closest defender should leave his man and go steal the ball.’
      • ‘The object of this drill is to pass the ball to each other without the defensive man touching, deflecting, or stealing the ball.’
      • ‘The first thing is that your kids need to understand that stealing the ball and or taking it from the defender is not the prime objective.’
      • ‘When his teammates stole the ball, he was ready to cherry-pick the play at half court and go in for the uncontested dunk.’
    4. 1.4Baseball (of a base runner) advance safely to (the next base) by running to it as the pitcher begins the delivery.
      ‘Rickey stole third base’
      • ‘He is a complete player that has enough speed to steal bases and cover right field for the Philadelphia Phillies.’
      • ‘Payton then attempted to steal second base and the shortstop was caught off guard.’
      • ‘The number of bases that are stolen against a pitcher will be proportional to the number of pitches that it takes him to dispose of a batter.’
      • ‘In the ninth inning of a tie game, he was thrown out trying to steal third base with one out when he already was in scoring position.’
      • ‘He tried to steal third base in the fifth inning, only to discover it was already occupied by a teammate.’
  • 2no object, with adverbial of direction Move somewhere quietly or surreptitiously.

    ‘he stole down to the kitchen’
    figurative ‘a delicious languor was stealing over her’
    • ‘I stole quietly to my Grandma's bedroom and flipped the lamp on, simultaneously grabbing the phone.’
    • ‘Within moments, the two friends were on their mounts and stealing quietly away into the night.’
    • ‘He stole quietly into Mass at St Aidan's in Enniscorthy, and did not concelebrate the Easter homily at 12.30 yesterday on Roe Street in Wexford town.’
    • ‘Did he quietly steal away, never letting the beast know he was there?’
    • ‘I'd stolen quietly toward her door deciding almost in mirthful amusement that she might indeed be napping.’
    • ‘My question still had not been answered, however; who could the shadowy figure stealing quietly through the forest have been?’
    • ‘She stole quietly from her bed in the small room in the small apartment.’
    • ‘Quietly, she stole out of bed and made her way to the door.’
    creep, sneak, slink, slip, slither, slide, glide, sidle, slope, edge, move furtively, tiptoe, pussyfoot, pad, prowl
    abscond, decamp, make off, run off, run away, flee, bolt, take off, take flight, disappear, vanish, slip away, sneak away, beat a hasty retreat, escape, make a run for it, make one's getaway, leave, depart, make oneself scarce
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    1. 2.1with object and adverbial of direction Direct (a look) quickly and unobtrusively.
      ‘he stole a furtive glance at her’
      • ‘She stole a quick look at her wardrobe and picked a long flowing skirt that ended a little below her ankles, she wore an off-shoulder and she wore her hair in a French braid.’
      • ‘She stole a look at Eric, but he was expressionless.’
      • ‘I can only assume that Harry has somehow managed to make his way to David Hockney's studio and steal a glimpse of The Massacre and the Problems of Depiction.’
      • ‘A grandmother trots past flat-footed, the baby jogging on her back stealing the look of me.’
      • ‘He finished with my skates and I continued to steal looks at him as he tied my cousin's skates.’
      • ‘He had been stealing furtive looks in her direction for the whole time his conversation with the other girls was taking place.’
      • ‘He stole a quick look at Julie who only smiled and shook her head.’
      • ‘I opened the passenger door and stole a glimpse from behind.’
      • ‘Maya stole a look at her mother's and Jenny's face.’
      • ‘It was only later, by stealing a look into her medical chart that I found out her new diagnosis: lymphoma.’
      • ‘While the servants were cleaning up, I noticed that Itrenore was stealing some looks toward me.’
      • ‘Those lucky enough to steal a glimpse while the church was closed for renovations had reported that his frescoes were truly magnificent.’
      • ‘I stole a glimpse of her face from the corner of my right eye.’
      • ‘She stole a look in Nathan's direction and met his eye, slightly tipping her head in James's direction.’
      • ‘As I neared Trey's Porsche, I stole a quick look over my shoulder.’
      • ‘Helicopters, carrying photographers determined to steal a glimpse of the occupants, hovered low overhead.’
      • ‘Wished you had something new and unique to wear that will steal a look from those around, when you go to a party?’
      • ‘Words on the blue T-shirt worn by a young woman in our coach, I swear I stole looks at it only to get these words down correctly.’
      • ‘Calla stole a quick look behind her and saw that there was nothing there.’
      • ‘I stole a look at one of the hijackers, who could only have been about 17, with acne scars on his jaw and neck.’


  • 1informal A bargain.

    ‘for $5 it was a steal’
    • ‘Served with lettuce dripped with delicious balsamic vinegar and a few kalamata olives, it was a steal for $3.50.’
    • ‘Moreover, a £5,000 wage for ‘part-time’ York councillors is a steal, given the demands on their time.’
    • ‘Mention the starting price of 22,000 and this starts to sound like the steal of the century - but there's a but.’
    • ‘It is not only a steal for those interested in setting up homes with aesthetic designs but also an opportunity for the upcoming artists to reach out to the masses.’
    • ‘We started with a pound of fresh mussels - a steal at $4.95.’
    • ‘IT wasn't exactly a steal for the buyers but the auction of Martin Cahill's former home didn't represent daylight robbery by the sellers either.’
    • ‘There is always a table d'hôte and, at $6.95 for lunch, it's a steal.’
    • ‘On the Friday night, we ate a superb meal: the champagne five-course dinner - a steal at £25 a head.’
    • ‘The ticket price includes a glass of wine - a steal at $8.’
    • ‘I know it's a lot, but for an established information brokerage with underworld contacts and everything it's an absolute steal.’
    • ‘With the government picking up the pension liabilities, it would be a steal.’
    • ‘Only seven left, and at just £10 a pop, an absolute steal.’
    • ‘On a cosy little cul-de-sac off O'Malley Park, it's got to be a steal!’
    • ‘At the price of $34.00, this rare item is an absolute steal.’
    • ‘On that basis, at just a tenner, the XFX corded pad is an absolute steal, representing a comfortable and technically excellent product at a top-notch price.’
    • ‘You normally get a free one-year no quibble guarantee from the manufacturer of electrical goods anyway, so a one-year free warranty might not be quite such a steal.’
    • ‘Admittedly, I have not yet tasted one with the multi-layered complexity of the great Burgundies, but even so a drinkable Pinot Noir for under a tenner is a real steal.’
    • ‘She scrounged together the money, but then saw the most gorgeous pair of boots on sale - a steal at $400.’
    • ‘The tax is only $8 and that's a steal for the show you'll get.’
    • ‘It all gets going at 10 p.m., and at $45, including an Elevation promo CD, this is a steal.’
    good buy, cheap buy
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  • 2North American An act of stealing something.

    ‘New York's biggest art steal’
    • ‘And the art of the steal - gun-toting thieves make off with a masterpiece while shocked museum - goers watched.’
    theft, robbery, raid, ram raid, burglary, larceny, thievery, break-in, hold-up
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    1. 2.1 An idea taken from another work.
      • ‘We also rang New Idea to see if they were spitting chips over the steal, but they didn't get back to us.’
    2. 2.2Baseball An act of stealing a base.
      • ‘His steal of third base in the fourth and deciding game of the ALDS didn't get as much pub as I thought was warranted.’
      • ‘No matter how maddening a baserunner might be, a steal remains 90 feet.’
      • ‘Lacy argued that he was misled by Stello when the arbiter pumped him out at second during an apparent steal attempt.’
      • ‘Novikoff, called the Mad Russian, one day made a great steal of third base.’
      • ‘Four singles, two of them in the infield, a steal, a wild pitch, a hit batsman, four more runs.’
    3. 2.3Basketball Hockey An act of taking possession of the ball or puck from an opponent.
      ‘point guard Kaleb Joseph finished with eight points, four steals, and seven assists’


  • steal someone blind

    • informal

      see blind
      • ‘They better hang around and make sure that our databases aren't giving out private information, and that my employees and consultants aren't stealing me blind somehow.’
      • ‘The fear he inspires is not that he will steal you blind and corrupt your morals.’
      • ‘But again, the staff of the hotel didn't merely steal me blind.’
      • ‘Her main modus operandi was to create a false sense of trust with unsuspecting employers and new friends, using the fake identities, and later stealing them blind.’
      • ‘I'm 88 years old, and he stole me blind over Social Security.’
      • ‘She will tell you how she watches your garden for you so ‘those bad hoodlum children’ don't steal you blind.’
      • ‘Still, almost every week, various baddies steal Jimmy blind and threaten to bring down plague.’
      • ‘They extort taxes from the rest ‘legally’ and steal them blind ‘illegally’, especially if the country produces cash crops, minerals or oil.’
      • ‘Even as the bandits and kidnappers find creatively hideous ways of ‘earning’ a better living, we have among us corporate crooks who are stealing us blind.’
      • ‘I'd better get back on the floor before those raccoons steal me blind.’
      cheat, swindle, defraud, fleece, dispossess
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  • steal a march on

    • Gain an advantage over (someone) by acting before they do.

      ‘stores that open on Sunday are stealing a march on their competitors’
      • ‘It enabled the men from Manchester to escape with all three points and steal a march on all their rivals.’
      • ‘As the battle for the contract hotted up yesterday, Ryanair stole a march on the rest of the field by unveiling its detailed plans for the new terminal.’
      • ‘The big stores tried stealing a march on each other by starting sales before Christmas but on the market we have done pretty well and it's still carrying on now.’
      • ‘‘I think we stole a march on the others,’ recalls Freedman, now an independent consultant.’
      • ‘Lufthansa has done well to steal a march on other airlines wanting to adopt this leading-edge communication service.’
      • ‘They completely redesigned the way they do things, which allowed them to steal a march on their high-street competitors to become a global brand.’
      • ‘Whatever the result at Starbeck, three points at Glasshoughton will steal a march on at least one of their rivals as the title race hots up.’
      • ‘Toy manufacturers, always keen to steal a march on their rivals, were quick to use the latest materials and fabrication techniques.’
      • ‘These changes need to happen - it will be painful - but Scotland cannot continue to stand by idly and watch our global competitors steal a march on us.’
      • ‘The year is 1958 and America is set to launch its first satellite in an attempt to steal a march on the Soviet Sputnik and regain supremacy in the space race.’
      pre-empt, get in before, get ahead of, steal a march on, anticipate, second-guess, nip in the bud, thwart, frustrate, foil, stave off, ward off, fend off, avert, preclude, obviate, prevent, intercept, check, block, hinder, impede, obstruct
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  • steal someone's heart

    • Win someone's love.

      • ‘If you really are a thief, out to steal my heart, then you'd better have a good lawyer.’
      • ‘I could not believe one day any man in the world can stole my heart and love me and I love him back.’
      • ‘A big well done, to young Justin, from the U - 6 category who stole the judge 's heart, and emerged with gold in the Solo Waltz.’
      • ‘More than simply winning Horse of the Year honors, that spunky mustang stole my heart.’
      • ‘Long before Diana emerged, we knew yet another princess who stole Hollywood 's heart before she enchanted the south of France.’
      • ‘In April he stole the nation 's heart by completing the slowest ever London marathon in a 130 lb antique divers suit.’
      • ‘You know that song that comes along once in a blue moon and takes your breath, and steals your heart, away?’
      • ‘He is a magnificent looking animal with a nature to match - beware, once you see him, he will steal your heart away.’
      • ‘Not your average cruising vessel, perhaps, but one that steals your heart after two hours on board nonetheless.’
      • ‘This journey takes him to a small city where he comes across Kamala, a Devadasi woman, who steals his heart.’
  • steal the show

    • Attract the most attention and praise.

      • ‘Anna described her younger sister as vivacious and ‘always stealing the show,’ which meant the attention of her parents and other adults.’
      • ‘There was general agreement that Mayor Collins stole the show.’
      • ‘Star of the line dancers was 8 year old Sonia Henry who stole the show.’
      • ‘He and Paul Scheer stole the show with their crazy cell-phone, moustached antics.’
      • ‘It was Nagendra Shaw and his team who stole the show afterwards.’
      • ‘He stole the show with his attack on the Opposition parties.’
      • ‘The most talkative mimics of the parrot kingdom, the gray parrot, Pssitacus erithacus, stole the show.’
      • ‘Does he want to steal the show and be the center of attention?’
      • ‘She was joined by Sunanda and Viswanath but it was Mitra who stole the show with his impeccable rendering of Ghantasala songs.’
      • ‘A most delightful and charming young person she stole the show, because with her personality we all just fell in love with her.’
      be the centre of attention, get all the attention, attract the most attention, be the focus of attention, be the main attraction, be the outstanding feature, put the others in the shade, be the high point, be the high spot, be the best part, have all eyes on one, be the cynosure
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  • steal someone's thunder

    • Win praise for oneself by preempting someone else's attempt to impress.

      • ‘However, in an apparent copycat career move, Lindsay is also recording her own debut album, which some say is another attempt to steal Duff 's thunder.’
      • ‘The Rajguru, the king's main political advisor, is a man with a colossal ego and doesn't like Raman stealing his thunder.’
      • ‘However, Mosley stole their thunder by confronting them with a number of new proposals as soon as the official meeting began.’
      • ‘Convinced that Paul was stealing his thunder, if not his soul, John fought his resentment with numbness.’
      • ‘But senior officers stole their thunder by revealing for the first time estimates of the funding needed for the new centre.’
      • ‘Upright and shapely, this tree is best seen on its own, away from other plants that might steal its thunder.’
      • ‘In their obituaries, media pundits blame competition from other magazines, broadsheets stealing their thunder, and internet publishing.’
      • ‘‘No wonder the poets are so hostile to us,’ scientists could say: ‘We stole their thunder.’’
      • ‘They might finally be overcoming the trauma of having him steal their thunder on most issues.’
      • ‘Not even a trombone is permitted to steal the tuba 's thunder.’


Old English stelan (verb), of Germanic origin; related to Dutch stelen and German stehlen.