Theft is the act of stealing something. If you've ever taken your sister's sweater without asking her first, then she's right: that's an instance of theft!

The word theft refers to taking something from someone else without getting permission. Shoplifting is a form of theft, as is embezzling a million dollars from your business partner's Swiss bank account. In the United States, petty theft is the act of stealing anything worth less than $500, like someone's bike or a pack of gum. It's still a punishable crime, but you will get in much bigger trouble if you steal something more valuable, like a car.

Definitions of theft

n the act of taking something from someone unlawfully

larceny, stealing, thievery, thieving
show 19 types...
hide 19 types...
breach of trust with fraudulent intent
larceny after trust rather than after unlawful taking
defalcation, embezzlement, misapplication, misappropriation, peculation
the fraudulent appropriation of funds or property entrusted to your care but actually owned by someone else
the act of stealing small amounts or small articles
shoplifting, shrinkage
the act of stealing goods that are on display in a store
larceny by threat of violence
biological theft; illegal collection of indigenous plants by corporations who patent them for their own use
grand larceny, grand theft
larceny of property having a value greater than some amount (the amount varies by locale)
petit larceny, petty, petty larceny
larceny of property having a value less than some amount (the amount varies by locale)
failure to declare income in order to avoid paying taxes on it
the stealing of cattle
an attempt by speculators to defraud investors
the act of plundering (especially the embezzlement of goods on shipboard)
armed robbery, heist, holdup, stickup
robbery at gunpoint
caper, job
a crime (especially a robbery)
dacoity, dakoity
robbery by a gang of armed dacoits
heist, rip-off
the act of stealing
highjacking, hijacking
robbery of a traveller or vehicle in transit or seizing control of a vehicle by the use of force
highway robbery
robbery of travellers on or near a public road
the act of robbing a helpless person
Type of:
a serious crime (such as murder or arson)

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.