Thief. n.s. [thiubs, Gothick; ðeif, Saxon; deif, Dutch. It was anciently written thieof, and so appeareth to have been of two syllables; thie was wont to be taken for thrift, so that thie of is he that takes of or from a man his thie, that is, his thrift or means whereby he thrives.]
- One who takes what belongs to another: the thief steals by secrecy, and the robber by violence; but these senses are confounded.
Take heed, have open eye; for thieves do foot by night. Shakespeare.
This he said because he was a thief, and had the bag. John.
Can you think I owe a thief my life,
Because he took it not by lawless force?
Am I obliged by that t'assist his rapines,
And to maintain his murders? Dryden.
- An excrescence in the snuff of a candle.
Their burning lamps the storm ensuing show,
Th' oil sparkles, thieves about the snuff do grow. May.