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Coined in Middle English (as larceni) between 1425 and 1475 from Anglo-Norman larcin (theft), from Latin latrocinium (robbery), from latro (robber, mercenary), from Ancient Greek λάτρον (látron, pay, hire).[1]


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈlɑː.sən.i/, /ˈlɑː.sɪ.ni/
  • (file)
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈlɑɹ.sə.ni/


larceny (countable and uncountable, plural larcenies)

  1. (law, uncountable) The unlawful taking of personal property as an attempt to deprive the legal owner of it permanently. [from mid-15th c.]
    Synonyms: theft, robbery
    • 1966, Thomas Pynchon, chapter 3, in The Crying of Lot 49, New York: Bantam Books, published 1976, →ISBN, page 37:
      “Why are you walking around,” inquired Oedipa, “with your eyes closed, Metzger?” “Larceny,” Metzger said, “maybe they'll need a lawyer.”
    • 1986, John le Carré, A Perfect Spy:
      He was prudent enough not to admit he was earning money, which went down well with you, for you knew already he was working “black,” as the Germans call it — meaning illegally, and at night. Shrewd chap, you thought; resourceful; not above a bit of larceny.
  2. (law, countable) An individual instance of such a taking.
    That young man already has four assaults, a DUI, and a larceny on his record.

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