Site icon Learn American English Online


March 30, 2015 Word of the Day



To steal something is to take the thing away from someone else with the intention of keeping it or selling it. It’s not right to steal, but stealing is an activity that’s as old as human civilization. A thief is a person who steals.

simple past past participle
  • The thief stole a bag of rice from the store. (past tense)
  • Todd steals things from people whenever he gets the chance. (present tense)
  • Someone has stolen my car! (present perfect)

This verb is often used in the passive voice because stealing is done in secret; therefore, it’s hard to identify the perpetrator (the thief) of the crime:

  • A large bag of money was stolen from the bank.
  • Our neighbors’ car was stolen from their driveway.
  • Books were stolen from the supply room at school.
  • Your bike will get stolen if you don’t lock it up.

The word "stealing" is a gerund:

  • The woman was caught stealing some clothes.
  • Stealing is a serious crime when the amount stolen is large.
  • The boy felt guilty about stealing money from his mother.

There are many different ways to steal:

  • A shoplifter steals from inside a store.
  • An embezzler steals from the business for which he works.
  • A pickpocket steals wallets and purses, unnoticed until it’s too late.
  • A burglar steals from a person’s house, usually late at night or when the person isn’t at home.
  • A looter steals when law and order are absent.
  • A forger steals by selling things that are fake.
  • A cheat steals through trickery.

stealing food

Stealing from a store is called "shoplifting."

The word "steal" is found in many different expressions:

  • The coat that I bought on sale was a steal. (It was very inexpensive.)
  • The girl stole the young man’s heart. (He fell in love with her.)
  • The actor stole the show. (He performed better than everyone else.)
  • The runner on first base decided to steal second. (Stealing is a method of a gaining an offensive advantage in the game of baseball.)

Click here to go to the Word of the Day page.

Exit mobile version