Mugger - Pickpocket



What's the diffrence between these words ?

Is it called "Pickpocket" if someone takes my phone out of my pocket ?
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    When a pickpocket takes something from you, you don't notice it. When a mugger takes something from you, it hurts! They hit you and rob you, or threaten to hit you anyway.

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    Although the word is very common, there's not actually a crime in English law called "mugging". The offence is "robbery of an isolated pedestrian" (L.B. Curzon, Dictionary of law, Pitman 1988). It almost always involves a degree of violence, if only the snatching of a handbag or phone out of someone's grasp.


    Senior Member
    AE (US English)
    Technically "mugging" does not include stealing or taking anything: it just means attacking and harming a person.

    Often a thug mugs someone so that they can rob them (after the person is helpless or unconscious). But not always. In fiction (and maybe in real life) sometimes a thug is paid to mug someone just to harm them, for revenge or some other reason.

    Pickpocketing means stealing from someone (in person) without them noticing. It comes from "pick" and "pocket", and we say "Joe picked the man's pocket" with that meaning. Here "pick" is similar to picking flowers, but you are "picking" what someone has in their "pocket".

    While it says "pocket", this can include stealing a coin purse in someone's belt, jewelry or a watch they are wearing, or something out of their purse: anything they have "on them" in public.