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From Middle English purloynen (to remove), borrowed from Anglo-Norman purloigner (to put far away), one of the variants of Old French porloignier. Doublet of prolong.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /pɜːˈlɔɪn/
    • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɔɪn


purloin (third-person singular simple present purloins, present participle purloining, simple past and past participle purloined)

  1. (transitive) To take the property of another, often in breach of trust; to appropriate wrongfully; to steal.
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book II”, in Paradise Lost. [], London: [] [Samuel Simmons], [], →OCLC; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: [], London: Basil Montagu Pickering [], 1873, →OCLC:
      Had from his wakeful custody purloined / The guarded gold.
    • 1900, One Who Was in It, chapter 8, in Kruger's Secret Service, pages 168–169:
      Probably my acquaintance, Mr Blank, therefore, would have been able, if he had so wished to do, to purloin the papers which he mentioned.
    • 1916, chapter 4, in A. Cecil Curtis, transl., Royal Highness, translation of Königliche Hoheit by Thomas Mann:
      The refreshment room was full of chatter and babble, which attracted everybody's envious glances. Some one had left his set in the middle of the dance, purloined a sandwich from the buffet, and was now chewing away proudly as he swerved and stamped, to the amusement of the rest.
  2. (intransitive) To commit theft; to thieve.
    • 1622, William Gouge, Of Domestical Duties, published 2006, →ISBN, page 454:
      The Apostle expressly forbiddeth servants to purloin (Titus 2:10).