9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[pil-fer] /ˈpɪl fər/
verb (used without object), verb (used with object)
to steal, especially in small quantities.
Origin of pilfer
late Middle English
1540-50; v. use of late Middle English pilfre booty < Middle French pelfre. See pelf
Related forms
pilferer, noun
unpilfered, adjective
thieve, purloin, filch, appropriate. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for pilfering
  • We can call her a pilfering magpie without finding her less watchable.
  • But by the time he was eighteen he had advanced from pilfering eggs and potatoes to stealing horses.
  • The sensors can also be used to detect package tampering and pilfering.
  • Its remote location helped to reduce pilfering as well.
  • If rabbits or groundhogs are pilfering from your garden, place a trap at the affected area or point of entry into the garden.
  • Lifesavers were dispatched to keep a lookout for wreckage and prevent pilfering.
  • As a result, the large web portals are unlikely to actively discourage smaller sites from pilfering the real-time data this way.
  • pilfering tuition dollars to make up for other shortfalls should not be tolerated.
British Dictionary definitions for pilfering


to steal (minor items), esp in small quantities
Derived Forms
pilferer, noun
pilfering, noun
Word Origin
C14 pylfre (n) from Old French pelfre booty; see pelf
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 pilfering



1540s, from pilfer (n.) "spoils, booty," c.1400, from Old French pelfre "booty, spoils" (11c.), of unknown origin, possibly related to pelf. Related: Pilfered; pilfering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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