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[em-bez-uh l] /ɛmˈbɛz əl/
verb (used with object), embezzled, embezzling.
to appropriate fraudulently to one's own use, as money or property entrusted to one's care.
Origin of embezzle
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English embesilen < Anglo-French embeseiller to destroy, make away with, equivalent to em- em-1 + beseiller, Old French beseiller to destroy < ?
Related forms
embezzlement, noun
embezzler, noun
nonembezzlement, noun
unembezzled, adjective
misappropriate. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for embezzlement
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • If it ever came to anything like that, which I don't think it will, the charge would be embezzlement or perhaps larceny as bailee.

    The Financier Theodore Dreiser
  • The world judged me guilty of embezzlement, but before God I am innocent!

  • Or, again, it may merely indicate that he had no real gift for embezzlement.

    Seeing Things at Night Heywood Broun
  • He may have been a clerk and been condemned for forgery or embezzlement.

    Condemned as a Nihilist George Alfred Henty
  • It has never lost a dollar by the fraud or embezzlement of any of its officers or agents.

    Nature and Culture Harvey Rice
British Dictionary definitions for embezzlement


to convert (money or property entrusted to one) fraudulently to one's own use
Derived Forms
embezzlement, noun
embezzler, noun
Word Origin
C15: from Anglo-French embeseiller to destroy, from Old French beseiller to make away with, of uncertain origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for embezzlement

1540s, from embezzle + -ment.



early 15c., from Anglo-French embesiler "to steal, cause to disappear" (c.1300), from Old French em- (see en- (1)) + besillier "torment, destroy, gouge," of unknown origin. Sense of "to dispose of fraudulently" is first recorded 1580s. Related: Embezzled; embezzling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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embezzlement in Culture

embezzlement definition

The stealing of money entrusted to one's care: “The treasurer of the company embezzled a million dollars.”

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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