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Back-formation from burglar.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈbɜːɡəl/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɜː(r)ɡəl


burgle (third-person singular simple present burgles, present participle burgling, simple past and past participle burgled)

  1. (chiefly Australia, Britain, New Zealand) to commit burglary. [from 1867]
    Synonym: burglarize
    • 1867 August 24, Sydney Morning Herald[1], Sydney, page 8:
      The New York World has coined a new verb -- "to burgle."
    • 1868 February 13, Louisville Daily Courier[2], Louisvile, KY, page 4:
      The language grows apace. A "cablegram" has been received, and $400 have been "burgled."
    • 1868, John Brougham, Much Ado About a Merchant of Venice[3], New York: Samuel French, page 13:
      Burgled his safe and bolted with the tin.
    • 1869, Joanna H. Mathews, Bessie at School[4], London: James Nisbet & Co., page 183:
      [S]he went and burgled three pears out of the dish ...
    • 1870 February 5, “American Slangography”, in Punch[5], London, page 44:
      Conceive the Great Lexicographer admitting to his Dictionary such excrescencies as: "Burgle, verb active, To break into a dwelling-house,"
    • 1872, M. Schele De Vere, Americanisms: The English of the New World[6], New York: Charles Scribner, page 587:
      Burglarize, to, a term creeping into journalism. ... The word has a dangerous rival in the shorter burgle.
    • 1873 April 21, Albert Julius Mott, “Inaugural Address”, in Proceedings of the Literary and Philosophical Society of Liverpool[7], volume xxvii, London: Longman, Greens, Reader & Dyer, page 30:
      When an American says, "I've been burgled" -- where an Englishman would say, "My house has been broken into by thieves" -- he succeeds in shortening the statement by more than half ...
    • 1892, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, “The Beryl Coronet”, in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes[8], HTML edition, The Gutenberg Project, published 2011:
      Well, I hope to goodness the house won’t be burgled during the night.
  2. (Britain, sports) To take the ball legally from an opposing player.
    • 2011 September 18, Ben Dirs, “Rugby World Cup 2011: England 41-10 Georgia”, in BBC Sport[9]:
      And when scrum-half Ben Youngs, who had a poor game, was burgled by opposite number Irakli Abuseridze and the ball shipped down the line to Irakli Machkhaneli, it looked like Georgia had scored a try of their own, but the winger's foot was in touch.

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