1. edmaudantes Senior Member

    is there any relevant difference between a thief and a stealer?
  2. blinnith Senior Member

    Toulouse (from Reims)
    French, France
    I'm not a native, but it seems that you will use thief for the "professional" who wants to steal something in secret. Stealer is for people who "steal" something without secret, i.e. "a girlfriend stealer", s scene-stealer...
  3. sam's mum

    sam's mum Senior Member

    England English
    Hmm, tricky one. I'd say you'd normally use stealer with what is being stolen e.g scene stealer. Also, a thief is more likely to be someone who steals something concrete, real. Just my feeling, though.
  4. frenchspanish Senior Member

    English, England
    Thief is the word used for someone who is commiting a crime by stealing something. Stealer cannot be used in this way, it is informal and can be used in situations like 'boyfriend-stealer' (an informal, made-up word) as blinnith says, or other less criminal instances of theft such as 'sandwich-stealer!' if someone has taken your lunch from the fridge :) When a crime is being commited and the law is being broken, stick to thief.
  5. Machiavelo New Member

    Ottawa, Canada
    Quebec French
    The word "thief" is a noun, which refers to a person who steals. The word "steal" is a verb, which refers to a person taking something without the owner's permission. There is no such noun as "stealer" nor a verb such as "to thieve." Therefore, "a thief steals things" makes sense but to say "a stealer thieves things" does not.

    And yes, I know, we have all called our schoolmates "stealers" when they took something of ours in grade school but it was not quite correct English.
  6. frenchspanish Senior Member

    English, England
    Whilst I agree here, that stealer is not proper english but thief is, it's worth pointing out that another commonly used, incorrect word in English is 'to thieve' - "he thieved my lunch!" Definately not correct English, however you may see it every now and again, especially amongst groups of young people.
  7. Antipodean

    Antipodean Senior Member

    Queensland, Australia
    English (Australian)
    I agree with Frenchspanish and Machiavelo. Australian usage is exactly the same as in England (and Quebec!).
  8. edmaudantes Senior Member

    I don't want to be a time stealer (hum...that'd be another thread) so thanks to all of you for these useful precisions.
  9. Melle_Specimen New Member

    French/Français - France
    I just wanted to mention that "stealer" is in the Oxford English Dictionary though...

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