Definition of thief in English:



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

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A young mother was dragged to her knees by a would-be thief who tried to steal her handbag.’
    • ‘When she took the paper bag from the car the thief snatched it from her grasp and fled.’
    • ‘The thief defrauded banks and building societies and left a trail of unpaid bills.’
    • ‘The occupant was in another room when the thief struck, snatching the bag from a table in the living room.’
    • ‘Police were today searching for a thief who snatched hundreds of pounds from a busy shop in Walton.’
    • ‘Against the odds he survives to become a car thief in Miami, all the while plotting his revenge.’
    • ‘A by-stander eventually broke up what he thought was a fight and the thief escaped.’
    • ‘The thief then grabbed her purse as the shocked pensioner raised the alarm by shouting to her husband.’
    • ‘Amazingly, he was left unscathed after being thrown onto the road when the thief refused to stop.’
    • ‘Because the code keeps changing, it's impossible for a car thief to grab the correct one.’
    • ‘Perhaps the thief hid the box until it was safe for him to take it to another area.’
    • ‘They had accused her of stealing, saying she was a thief and was stealing their things.’
    • ‘Police today warned store bosses to be aware of a violent thief working in the area.’
    • ‘He was visiting the gym when the thief followed him in, broke into his locker and stole his keys.’
    • ‘Swindon police say that he was away from his bike, delivering a letter, when the thief took the bag.’
    • ‘As he tried to stop the car, the thief drove off with the passenger door open.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Make a car thief a lottery millionaire and it will not immediately improve his sense of etiquette.’
    robber, burglar, housebreaker, cat burglar, shoplifter, pickpocket, sneak thief, mugger, larcenist, stealer, pilferer, poacher
    View synonyms


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