Definition of thief in English:

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Pronunciation: /θiːf/

noun (plural thieves /θiːvz/)

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
More example sentences
  • They had accused her of stealing, saying she was a thief and was stealing their things.
  • 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.
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;
Indian  dacoit
informal crook, cracksman, steamer
North American informal yegg, second-story man/worker
West Indian informal tief
British rhyming slang tea leaf
archaic cutpurse, pickpurse, footpad, lurcher
rare peculator, defalcator


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

  • honour from Middle English:

    Latin honor is the source of honour and of honest and honesty (both Middle English). The idea that there is honour among thieves was expressed even in the early 17th century. The English philosopher Jeremy Bentham was the first to put it in print in its modern form when he wrote in 1802: ‘A sort of honour may be found (according to a proverbial saying) even among thieves.’ The plant honesty is named from its diaphanous seed pods, translucency symbolizing lack of deceit.

Words that rhyme with thief

aperitif, beef, belief, brief, chief, enfeoff, fief, grief, interleaf, leaf, Leif, lief, Mazar-e-Sharif, misbelief, motif, naif, O'Keeffe, reef, seif, Sharif, sheaf, shereef, sportif, Tenerife

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: thief

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