Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Burgle

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The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is burgle. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

The word burgle means “to break into and steal from (a home, business, etc.).”

// The broken window alerted the security guard that the office may have been burgled.

BURGLE in Context

“Dutch police were surprised to find a hidden cannabis grow inside an Arnhem home after receiving a tip that they believe was courtesy of the very suspect who sought to burgle the house, but reportedly left without any of the homeowner’s possessions.” — Angela Stelmakowich, The Vancouver Sun, 4 Jan. 2022

Did You Know?

Burglary and burglar, which refer respectively to the act of breaking into a dwelling especially at night in order to commit theft or some other felony, and to someone who commits such an act, have been with us since the 16th century. Burgle and its synonym burglarize didn’t break into the language until the 19th century. Burgle is a back-formation from burglar—that is, it was formed by removing that word’s suffix. Burglarize comes from burglartoo, but by a suffixal addition. Both verbs were once disparaged by grammarians—burgle (now the usual choice in British English) was considered “facetious” and burglarize (now preferred in the U.S.) was labeled “colloquial”—but they are both now generally accepted. Readers may also be curious to know the specificity English allows in referring to thieves of particular types.

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