thief


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like a thief in the night

In a swift and secretive, stealthy, or surreptitious manner. The cancer spread through my lungs and into my bones like a thief in the night, giving me no chance of beating it.
See also: like, night, thief

thief in the night

A person or thing that moves in a swift and secretive, stealthy, or surreptitious manner. The cancer spread through my lungs and into my bones like a thief in the night, giving me no chance of beating it.
See also: night, thief

be (as) thick as thieves

To be very close friends. Anna and Beth are together all the time these days—they're as thick as thieves.
See also: thick, thief

there is honor among thieves

Even criminals have a code of conduct or principle, especially not to inform against one another. Often used in the negative. Given the chance, most criminals facing extensive jail time are more than willing to give up their associates for a more lenient sentence, disposing of the ridiculous notion that there is honor among thieves. "You'll receive no reward, no benefit for protecting other criminals," the police chief said during his public statement. "There is no honor among thieves—if you have information to make this city safer, do the right thing and report it."
See also: among, honor, there, thief

(as) thick as thieves

Having a close, intimate friendship or alliance. Anna and Beth are together all the time these days—they're as thick as thieves. The guys who work in the warehouse are thick as thieves. They don't really socialize with anyone else in the company.
See also: thick, thief

it takes one to know one

A retort used when a person accuses someone of or criticizes someone for something that they themselves are guilty of. A: "You're a real jerk!" B: "Yeah, well, it takes one to know one!"
See also: know, one, take

it takes a thief to catch a thief

One who is skilled at evading the law is well-trained to find or catch someone who behaves similarly. He's a bank robber, he can definitely help us catch these crooks—it takes a thief to catch a thief, you know.
See also: catch, take, thief

Little thieves are hanged, but great ones escape.

Those who commit small crimes will face the full consequences of the law, but those who commit crimes on a huge scale will go unpunished. So some guy who holds up a liquor store with a gun because his family can't afford food gets 30 years in prison, but a wealthy CEO who robs millions of people of their pensions gets a few months of community service? I tell you, little thieves are hanged, but great one's escape.
See also: but, great, little, one, thief

opportunity makes a thief

Even those who are morally upright would steal if they were able to do it without getting caught. A: "I figured out a way to collect social welfare while still working." B: "I never thought someone like you would try to rip off the system like that. Opportunity makes a thief, I guess."
See also: make, opportunity, thief

procrastination is the thief of time

It is easy to waste, lose track of, and subsequently run out of time by putting off what one ought to be doing. I know you think two weeks is plenty of time to finish your essay, but you're better off getting to work on it now—procrastination is the thief of time, after all. A: "I'll start studying after I beat one more level in my video game." B: "Don't leave it too late—procrastination is the thief of time!"
See also: of, thief, time

Little thieves are hanged, but great ones escape.

Prov. Truly expert criminals are never caught. Everyone's making such a fuss because they convicted that bank robber, but he must not have been a very dangerous criminal. Little thieves are hanged, but great ones escape.
See also: but, escape, great, little, one, thief

Opportunity makes a thief.

Prov. Anyone would steal, given a chance to do so without being punished. Mr. Cooper thought of himself as a moral man. But opportunity makes a thief, and with the safe unguarded he had the opportunity to steal thousands of dollars undetected.
See also: make, opportunity, thief

Procrastination is the thief of time.

Prov. If you put off doing what you ought to do, you will end up not having enough time to do it properly. Jim: Have you started looking for a job yet? Jane: Oh, that can wait till tomorrow. Jim: Procrastination is the thief of time.
See also: of, thief, time

Set a thief to catch a thief.

Prov. The best person to catch a thief is another thief, because he or she knows how thieves think. The government set a thief to catch a thief, hiring a stockbroker convicted of fraudulent practices to entrap the stockbroker they were investigating for fraud.
See also: catch, set, thief

There is honor among thieves.

Prov. Criminals do not commit crimes against each other. The gangster was loyal to his associates and did not tell their names to the police, demonstrating that there is honor among thieves.
See also: among, honor, there, thief

*thick as thieves

Cliché very close-knit; friendly; allied. (Thick = close and loyal. *Also: as ~.) Mary, Tom, and Sally are as thick as thieves. They go everywhere together. Those two families are thick as thieves.
See also: thick, thief

it takes one to know one

The person who expressed criticism has similar faults to the person being criticized. This classic retort to an insult dates from the early 1900s. For example, You say she's a terrible cook? It takes one to know one! For a synonym, see pot calling the kettle black. A near equivalent is the proverbial it takes a thief to catch a thief, meaning "no one is better at finding a wrongdoer than another wrongdoer." First recorded in 1665, it remains current.
See also: know, one, take

thick as thieves

Intimate, closely allied, as in The sisters-in-law are thick as thieves. This term uses thick in the sense of "intimate," a usage that is obsolete except in this simile. [Early 1800s]
See also: thick, thief

thick as thieves

If two or more people are as thick as thieves, they are very friendly with each other. Jones and Cook had met at the age of ten and were as thick as thieves. Grant went to school with Maloney, the other lawyer in town. They're thick as thieves.
See also: thick, thief

thick as thieves

(of two or more people) very close or friendly; sharing secrets. informal
See also: thick, thief

(there is) honour among ˈthieves

(saying) used to say that even criminals have standards of behaviour that they respect
See also: among, honour, thief

it ˌtakes one to ˈknow one

(informal, disapproving) you are the same kind of person as the person you are criticizing: ‘Your brother is a real idiot.’ ‘Well, it takes one to know one.’
See also: know, one, take

(as) thick as ˈthieves (with somebody)

(informal) (of two or more people) very friendly with each other, especially in a way that makes other people suspicious: Those two are as thick as thieves — they go everywhere together. OPPOSITE: be at daggers drawn
See also: thick, thief

like a ˌthief in the ˈnight

secretly or unexpectedly: In the end I left like a thief in the night, without telling anybody or saying goodbye.
See also: like, night, thief
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A thief tried to snatch her bag from the rollator's basket, but the lid slammed shut loudly which alerted Shirley and scared the thief off.