v. stole (stōl), sto·len (stōlən), steal·ing, steals
1. To take (the property of another) without right or permission.
2. To present or use (someone else's words or ideas) as one's own.
3. To get or take secretly or artfully: steal a look at a diary; steal the puck from an opponent.
4. To give or enjoy (a kiss) that is unexpected or unnoticed.
5. To draw attention unexpectedly in (an entertainment), especially by being the outstanding performer: The magician's assistant stole the show with her comic antics.
6. Baseball To advance safely to (another base) during the delivery of a pitch, without the aid of a base hit, walk, passed ball, or wild pitch.
1. To steal another's property.
2. To move, happen, or elapse stealthily or unobtrusively: He stole away for a quiet moment. The deadline stole up on us.
3. Baseball To steal a base.
1. The act of stealing.
2. Slang A bargain.
3. Baseball A stolen base.
4. Basketball An act of gaining possession of the ball from an opponent.
steal (someone's) thunder
To use, appropriate, or preempt the use of another's idea, especially to one's own advantage and without consent by the originator.
[Middle English stelen, from Old English stelan.]
Synonyms: steal, purloin, filch, pilfer, swipe, lift, pinch
These verbs mean to take another's property wrongfully, often surreptitiously. Steal is the most general: stole a car; steals research from colleagues. To purloin is to make off with something, often in a breach of trust: purloined the key to his cousin's safe-deposit box. Filch often suggests that what is stolen is of little value, while pilfer sometimes connotes theft of or in small quantities: filched towels from the hotel; pilfered fruit from the farmer. Swipe frequently connotes quick, furtive snatching or seizing: swiped a magazine from the rack. To lift is to take something surreptitiously and keep it for oneself: a pickpocket who lifts wallets on the subway. Pinch can apply loosely to any kind of stealing, but literally it means taking something by picking it up between the thumb and the fingers: pinched a dollar from the till.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.