Embezzle <vs> misappropriate

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panzerfaust0

Senior Member
mandarin
Hello. I wonder what the differences there are between these two words, "embezzle" and "misappropriate". I think that the former is the more technical term, and is the one that gets used in say a court proceeding, whereas the latter is more colloquial. I could be completely wrong though. And I just want to hear thoughts from native speakers.

Context 1: Given Mike's job at our company, I don't think he is in the position to embezzle anything except coffee money.

Context 2. The financial regulators of Quebec alleged that Pierre Jolicoeur misappropriated investors' money for his personal use, after promising them annual returns of 15 to 30 percent. Taken from Gordon Pape's book, "retirement's harsh new realities". Slightly paraphrased.

Thanks.
 
  • perpend

    Banned
    American English
    Just for starters, I would consider both terms at a "high level", meaning "misappropriate" is not colloquial.
     

    perpend

    Banned
    American English
    Well, to give my own perspective ...

    "embezzle" is a little more down and dirty to me. Somehow slimy or mafia-related.

    "misappropriating funds" is sort of an antonym of "appropriating funds". Funds should be appropriated in the right way for the greater good, but sometimes politicians or whoever is in power, misappropriate them.

    Now, that also could mean embezzlement. God only knows.

    "misappropriate" sounds nicer and is a nice euphemism for "laundering". :)
     
    Last edited:

    snilocks

    Member
    English - Texas
    As I understand it, misappropriation means misuse, and can mean other things outiside of a financial context. Embezzlement solely refers to the criminal offense of stealing funds and has evolved as an extention of Larceny. The history behind these terms might better clarify their meaning

    However, I would consult a legal dictionary for further understanding, as these are both legal terms.
     
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    Susan Y

    Senior Member
    British English
    Legally, the terms vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The term "embezzlement" is no longer used in a technical legal sense in the UK or New Zealand, although it is often used in the media. I have to say to me it sounds very old-fashioned.

    If you really want to know which legal term is used in a particular jurisdiction, I would consult that jurisdiction's actual legislation (such as its Crimes Act) rather than a legal dictionary, as these are often out of date (and may be misleading if they are not from the correct jurisdiction).
     

    EdisonBhola

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Is it correct to speak of "embezzle a credit card", if someone has stolen another person's credit card and used it illegally?
     

    snilocks

    Member
    English - Texas
    Is it correct to speak of "embezzle a credit card", if someone has stolen another person's credit card and used it illegally?
    No. One embezzles money, funds, currency... A credit card is not currency per se - it is a medium through which money is lent and borrowed.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Embezzle means you take money from your employer or company secretly through the access granted by your job. For instance, you might be authorized to write checks for the company and you start writing checks to someone else pretending to do work for the company and then you and the other person share the money.

    If you take money from another person that's not embezzlement.
     

    Barque

    Banned
    Tamil
    Yes, I think that in everyday speech, embezzlement involves some sort of plan, and usually relates to the embezzler's line of work. As Kentix says, it's generally used in the context of defrauding your employer.

    Misappropriation is more general and just means taking something you shouldn't.

    I'd say all embezzlement is misappropriation but it's not always the other way round.
     
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