Word Origin & History
O.E. stelan "to commit a theft" (class IV strong verb; past tense stæl, pp. stolen), from P.Gmc. *stelanan (cf. O.S. stelan, O.N., O.Fris. stela, Du. stelen, O.H.G. stelan, Ger. stehlen, Goth. stilan), of unknown origin. Most IE words for steal have roots in notions of "hide," "carry off," or "collect,
heap up." Attested as a verb of stealthy motion from c.1300 (e.g. to steal away, c.1369); of glances, sighs, etc., from 1586. The noun meaning "a bargain" is Amer.Eng. colloquial attested by 1942; baseball sense of "a stolen base" is from 1867. To steal (someone) blind first recorded 1974.