Definition of steal in English:

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Pronunciation: /stiːl/

verb (past stole /stəʊl/; past participle stolen /ˈstəʊlən/)

1 [with object] Take (another person’s property) without permission or legal right and without intending to return it: thieves stole her bicycle (as adjective stolen) stolen goods [no object]: she was found guilty of stealing from her employers
More example sentences
  • In instances where property is stolen, thieves can and will be traced, and dealt with accordingly.
  • A 72-year-old grandfather has been convicted after police investigating a ram-raid gang found stolen property at his home.
  • Documents, purses and property were stolen in a spate of attacks.
purloin, thieve, take, take for oneself, help oneself to, loot, pilfer, abscond with, run off with, appropriate, abstract, carry off, shoplift;
embezzle, misappropriate;
have one's fingers/hand in the till
informal walk off/away with, run away/off with, rob, swipe, nab, rip off, lift, ‘liberate’, ‘borrow’, filch, snaffle, snitch, souvenir
British informal nick, pinch, half-inch, whip, knock off, nobble, bone, scrump, blag
North American informal heist, glom
Australian informal snavel
Australian dated, informal clifty
West Indian informal tief
archaic crib, hook
rare peculate, defalcate
(be stolen) informalwalk, go walkies
theft, thieving, thievery, robbery, larceny, burglary, shoplifting, pilfering, pilferage, looting, appropriation, misappropriation;
rare peculation, defalcation
1.1Dishonestly pass off (another person’s ideas) as one’s own: accusations that one group had stolen ideas from the other were soon flying
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • ‘We're not giving the details out at present because if we did that, others would steal the ideas before we launched,’ said Spowart.
plagiarize, copy, pass off as one's own, infringe the copyright of, pirate, poach, borrow, appropriate
informal rip off, lift, pinch, nick, crib
1.2Take the opportunity to give or share (a kiss) when it is not expected or when people are not watching: he stole kisses in shop doorways
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • Brian took advantage of the opportunity to steal a quick kiss, only making her cheeks tun a brighter red.
  • 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.
snatch, sneak, obtain stealthily, get surreptitiously
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: he stole the ball from Kevin Scott to run on and score his seventh League goal
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • United's Chris Smith spotted a half-chance and raced in to steal possession and prod the ball home.
  • 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.
1.4 Baseball Run to (a base) while the pitcher is in the act of delivery: he claims he can steal a hundred bases this season
More example sentences
  • He tried to steal third base in the fifth inning, only to discover it was already occupied by a teammate.
  • 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.
  • He is a complete player that has enough speed to steal bases and cover right field for the Philadelphia Phillies.
2 [no object, with adverbial of direction] Move somewhere quietly or surreptitiously: he stole down to the kitchen she disobeyed a court order and stole away with the children figurative a delicious languor was stealing over her
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • I'd stolen quietly toward her door deciding almost in mirthful amusement that she might indeed be napping.
  • 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
informal split, scram, skedaddle, vamoose, skip, cut and run, make tracks, push off, shove off, clear off, hightail it, hotfoot it, show a clean pair of heels, do a bunk, do a runner, do a moonlight flit, do a disappearing act, head for the hills, fly the coop, take French leave, go AWOL
British informal scarper
North American informal take a powder, go on the lam, light out, bug out, peel out, cut out
British informal, dated hook it
2.1 [with object and adverbial of direction] Direct (a look) quickly and unobtrusively: he stole a furtive glance at her
More example sentences
  • He had been stealing furtive looks in her direction for the whole time his conversation with the other girls was taking place.
  • 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.
  • As I neared Trey's Porsche, I stole a quick look over my shoulder.


[in singular]
1 informal A bargain: at £59.95 it’s an absolute steal
More example sentences
  • Only seven left, and at just £10 a pop, an absolute steal.
  • I know it's a lot, but for an established information brokerage with underworld contacts and everything it's an absolute steal.
  • At the price of $34.00, this rare item is an absolute steal.
2chiefly North American An act of stealing something: New York’s biggest art steal
More example sentences
  • 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;
embezzlement, misappropriation, swindle, fraud;
in India or Burma dacoity
informal snatch, pinch, smash-and-grab (raid), stick-up, mugging, job
British informal blag
North American informal heist
rare peculation, defalcation
2.1An idea taken from another work: the chorus is a steal from The Smiths’ ’London'
More example sentences
  • 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 Baseball An act of stealing a base.
Example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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.
2.3chiefly Basketball & Ice Hockey An act of taking possession of the ball or puck from an opponent: he finished with eight points, four steals, and seven assists



steal someone blind

informal Rob or cheat someone in a comprehensive or merciless way.
Example sentences
  • I'm 88 years old, and he stole me blind over Social Security.
  • 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.
  • The fear he inspires is not that he will steal you blind and corrupt your morals.

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
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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.

steal someone's heart

Win someone’s love.
Example sentences
  • I could not believe one day any man in the world can stole my heart and love me and I love him back.
  • Long before Diana emerged, we knew yet another princess who stole Hollywood 's heart before she enchanted the south of France.
  • 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.

steal the show

Attract the most attention and praise.
Example sentences
  • Anna described her younger sister as vivacious and ‘always stealing the show,’ which meant the attention of her parents and other adults.
  • Does he want to steal the show and be the center of attention?
  • He stole the show with his attack on the Opposition parties.
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/spot, be the best part, have all eyes on one, be the cynosure;
outshine, put in the shade, upstage, overshadow, eclipse, outclass, dwarf, tower above/over, put to shame

steal someone's thunder

Win praise for oneself by pre-empting someone else’s attempt to impress.
From an exclamation by the English dramatist John Dennis (1657–1734), who invented a method of simulating the sound of thunder as a theatrical sound effect and used it in an unsuccessful play. Shortly after his play came to the end of its short run he heard his new thunder effects used at a performance of Macbeth, whereupon he is said to have exclaimed: ‘Damn them! They will not let my play run, but they steal my thunder!’
Example sentences
  • 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.
  • But senior officers stole their thunder by revealing for the first time estimates of the funding needed for the new centre.
  • However, Mosley stole their thunder by confronting them with a number of new proposals as soon as the official meeting began.



Example sentences
  • Without a doubt the most stealable item is the mobile phone.
  • Even as UN forces surveyed the town, rebel fighters stripped off, carted away and stacked corrugated iron roofs from huts - removing some of the last stealable goods.
  • Young, confused, and seeking my own voice, I needed not only all the helpful examples I could scrounge up but also a little-known source of readily stealable graphic ideas.


Pronunciation: /ˈstiːlə/
[in combination]: a sheep-stealer
More example sentences
  • There is a ‘black sheep’ website offering a shortcut to people who want to trace their descent from a highwayman, cattle stealer or convict.
  • They were traditionally viewed as inspirational artists, musicians, and dancers - and as thieves, horse stealers, and witches.
  • That journal is nothing but a bunch of copyright stealers, plagiarists and intellectual thieves.


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

  • Steal has two basic but connected senses: ‘take dishonestly’ and ‘go secretly’. If someone steals your thunder they win attention for themselves by pre-empting your attempt to impress. The source of this expression is surprisingly literal. The English dramatist John Dennis (1657–1734) invented a new method of simulating the sound of thunder as a theatrical sound effect and used it in his unsuccessful play Appius and Virginia. Shortly after he heard the same thunder effects used at a performance of Shakespeare's Macbeth. Dennis was understandably furious. ‘Damn them!’, he fumed, ‘they will not let my play run, but they steal my thunder!’ Stealth (Middle English) is closely connected and originally meant ‘theft’, and the phrase by stealth meant ‘by theft’ in late medieval English. The modern meaning of stealth evolved by homing in on all the furtiveness and secrecy associated with stealing. Stalk [LOE] as in ‘to stalk game’ is another relative, originally meaning ‘walk cautiously or stealthily’. The stalk of a plant (Middle English) is unconnected and may be a form of dialect stale ‘rung of a ladder, long handle’.

Words that rhyme with steal

allele, anele, anneal, appeal, Bastille, Beale, Castile, chenille, cochineal, cockatiel, conceal, congeal, creel, deal, eel, Emile, feel, freewheel, genteel, Guayaquil, heal, heel, he'll, keel, Kiel, kneel, leal, Lille, Lucille, manchineel, meal, misdeal, Neil, O'Neill, ordeal, peal, peel, reel, schlemiel, seal, seel, she'll, spiel, squeal, steel, Steele, teal, underseal, veal, weal, we'll, wheel, zeal

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