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From Middle English thef, theef, þef, from Old English þēof, from Proto-Germanic *þeubaz. Spelling from Northern England, where /eːo/ became [iə] rather than [eː]. (Compare the spelling of deep from Old English deop.)
- (Received Pronunciation) enPR: thēf, IPA(key): /θiːf/
- (General American) IPA(key): /θif/
Audio (US) (file)
- Rhymes: -iːf
thief (plural thieves)
- One who carries out a theft.
- Synonyms: see Thesaurus:thief
- c. 1596–1598, William Shakespeare, “The Merchant of Venice”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act I, scene iii]:
- water-thieves and land-thieves
- One who steals another person's property, especially by stealth and without using force or violence.
- 1580, Thomas Tusser, “74. A Digression.”, in Fiue Hundred Pointes of Good Husbandrie: […], imprinted at London: By Henrie Denham [beeing the assigne of William Seres] […], OCLC 837741850; republished as W[illiam] Payne and Sidney J[ohn Hervon] Herrtage, editors, Five Hundred Pointes of Good Husbandrie. […], London: Published for the English Dialect Society by Trübner & Co., […], 1878, OCLC 7391867535, stanza 4, page 166:
- (obsolete) A waster in the snuff of a candle.
- (Can we find and add a quotation of Bishop Hall to this entry?)
- (one who carries out a theft): See Thesaurus:criminal
one who carries out theft