Thief Thief (th[=e]f), n.; pl. {Thieves} (th[=e]vz). [OE. thef, theef, AS. [thorn]e['o]f; akin to OFries. thiaf, OS. theof, thiof, D. dief, G. dieb, OHG. diob, Icel. [thorn]j[=o]fr, Sw. tjuf, Dan. tyv, Goth. [thorn]iufs, [thorn]iubs, and perhaps to Lith. tupeti to squat or crouch down. Cf. {Theft}.] 1. One who steals; one who commits theft or larceny. See {Theft}. [1913 Webster]

There came a privy thief, men clepeth death. --Chaucer. [1913 Webster]

Where thieves break through and steal. --Matt. vi. 19. [1913 Webster]

2. A waster in the snuff of a candle. --Bp. Hall. [1913 Webster]

{Thief catcher}. Same as {Thief taker}.

{Thief leader}, one who leads or takes away a thief. --L'Estrange.

{Thief taker}, one whose business is to find and capture thieves and bring them to justice.

{Thief tube}, a tube for withdrawing a sample of a liquid from a cask.

{Thieves' vinegar}, a kind of aromatic vinegar for the sick room, taking its name from the story that thieves, by using it, were enabled to plunder, with impunity to health, in the great plague at London. [Eng.] [1913 Webster]

Syn: Robber; pilferer.

Usage: {Thief}, {Robber}. A thief takes our property by stealth; a robber attacks us openly, and strips us by main force. [1913 Webster]

Take heed, have open eye, for thieves do foot by night. --Shak. [1913 Webster]

Some roving robber calling to his fellows. --Milton. [1913 Webster]

The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.

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  • thief — [θi:f] n plural thieves [θi:vz] [: Old English; Origin: theof] someone who steals things from another person or place →↑theft, burglar ↑burglar, robber ↑robber ▪ Thieves broke into the offices and stole $150,000 s worth of computer equipment. a… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

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  • thief — (n.) O.E. þeof, from P.Gmc. *theubaz (Cf. O.Fris. thiaf, O.S. thiof, M.Du. dief, O.H.G. diob, Ger. dieb, O.N. þiofr, Goth. þiufs), probably from PIE *teup (Cf. Lith. tupeti to crouch down ) …   Etymology dictionary

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