thief


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.

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 adhere to a code of conduct or certain principles, especially not to inform against one another. Often used in the negative. In the collective of pickpockets, no one dared steal from another. There is some honor among thieves. 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.
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 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 ones 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

set a thief to catch a thief

To employ a criminal or thief in order to understand, anticipate, and ultimately apprehend another criminal or thief. Honestly, who better to lead an investigation into tax fraud than someone who was convicted of just that? Set a thief to catch a thief, I say. We've actually begun employing prominent members of the hacking community to improve our cyber security, setting thieves to catch thieves, as it were.
See also: catch, set, thief

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

den of thieves, a

A group of individuals or a place strongly suspected of underhanded dealings. This term appears in the Bible (Matthew 21:13) when Jesus, driving the moneychangers from the Temple, said, “My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” Daniel Defoe used the term in Robinson Crusoe, published in 1719, and by the late eighteenth century it was well known enough to be listed with other collective terms such as “House of Commons” in William Cobbett’s English Grammar in a discussion of syntax relating to pronouns.
See also: den, of

it takes one to know one

The critic is as bad as the person being criticized. This expression, a modern version of the proverbial “set a thief to catch a thief,” and “a thief knows a thief as well as a wolf knows a wolf,” dates from the early twentieth century.
See also: know, one, take

thick as thieves

On intimate terms; very good friends. The use of thick for “intimate” survives mainly in this cliché, which no doubt owes its popularity to alliteration. It was already proverbial, according to Theodore E. Hook, in 1833 (The Parson’s Daughter): “She and my wife are as thick as thieves, as the proverb goes.”
See also: thick, thief
References in periodicals archive ?
A complaint has already been filed against the 'religious' thief before the authorities in Tayabas City, but he remains at large of posting time.
The couple that was robbed suspect the thief came into their house through the balcony from the roof as the door of the house was not tampered with.
Machine tools were stolen from a business by a thief who covered a CCTV camera and then broke into a garage.
Yes, these sticks that when pointed at you, you will be politely commanded to do the 'Hands Up', or in cases of plain insanity the holder would let go fire out of it into your GPS location before asking questions like 'who goes there?' At that moment, when that Fourth of July enters your inside and you become transformed into a ghost, this thief slapper will just say he questioned you about who you were, and you refused to come out with a response, and since his safety was threatened, he decided to offload some of the things loaded in his fire stick for you too to carry small, but, unfortunately, you decided to join your ancestors in the life hereafter.
In a public speech in August, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli, referring to the implication of top officials in the graft probes, had said: "There is a thief in Ankara, and the thief is in charge."
For more information about For All To Play and Grail to the Thief, visit our website at www.foralltoplay.com.
When we read the divan of Parvin we encounter with thief and by studying the couplets we observe that how she has used thief in different meanings with simple explanation:
She said items like ladders, which could make life easier for a thief, should not be left in the open.
After 90 seconds of straining to cut through the lock the thief hears someone nearby and quickly stashes the bolt cutters before casually leaning on a nearby wall as two women walk past.
Deputy Police Chief Kathleen Jones said that, although the woman was happy to have her belongings back, she was worried because the thief knows where she lives.
PUL-I-KHUMRI (PAN): A young passengers killed an armed thief in Baghlan province and wounded another.
When he turned a corner, he came face to face with a thief. Colwell fired one shot, and the thief dropped his saw and bolted for his van.
The plea comes after a thief entered an ambulance parked in Hilton Lane, Featherstone, near Cannock, while it was on an emergency call at around 7.20pm on Sunday.
A REFORMED Birmingham car thief last warned that satellite navigation gadgets were 'easy pickings' as a report showed that the black market for stolen satnav had topped pounds 13 million.
Over on cable, the fX network brought out Thief, with Andre Braugher as the chief of a robbery crew planning their own big heist, and AMC began running Hustle, tracking the escapades of a band of London con artists.