A Dictionary of the English Language
                        A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson
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View Scan · View Transcription · from page 2046

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.]

  1. 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?

  2. An excrescence in the snuff of a candle.

    Their burning lamps the storm ensuing show,
    Th' oil sparkles, thieves about the snuff do grow.

Sources: Dryden, John (788) · The Bible - John (15) · May, Thomas (5) · Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Windsor (95)

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Cite this page: Johnson, Samuel. "Thief." A Dictionary of the English Language: A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson. Edited by Brandi Besalke. Last modified: November 12, 2012. https://johnsonsdictionaryonline.com/thief/.

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