robbery is stealing only, but mugging is attacking and stealing.

But I noticed most of news websites use robbery instead of mugging, even when it is include attacking.

  • A woman has been assaulted with a hammer during an attempted robbery outside a south Belfast restaurant. BBC
  • On-loan Marseille winger Florian Thauvin was reportedly "violently assaulted" on Monday evening as he fended off an attempted robbery. CNN

Why shouldn't they use mugging instead of robbery? it will be more accurate.

  • 2
    In practice the definitions aren't that precise. All muggings are robberies, and there's no reason a robbery can't include violence too. – stangdon Feb 24 '17 at 10:59
  • It would be more specific, not necessarily more accurate. – Kevin Feb 24 '17 at 16:54
  • @Catija that question about the meaning, her we know the meaning very well. but I asked why the news sites don't use it based on its meaning – Shannak Feb 24 '17 at 20:06
  • Then you need to explain that better because your answers don't cover that. All of the answers just define the terms. – Catija Feb 24 '17 at 20:18
  • @Catija You have very good answer in the duplicated question. but still this doesn't answer this question (as you change ): Why do news stories tend to use “robbery” when they mean “mugging”? – Shannak Feb 25 '17 at 8:57

They aren't too different, but I interpret mugging as a robbery that takes place on a public street. Longman's definition is an attack on someone in which they are robbed in a public place. Robbery is a theft that involves confrontation or violence.

If I'm walking down an alley and a stranger threatens me if I don't give them my wallet, that's a mugging (and also a robbery).

If I'm walking down the street, and someone grabs my bag from my hands and runs away, that's a purse-snatching (and also a robbery even though it wasn't exactly violent).

If I leave my purse in a shopping cart, and someone steals it when I'm not looking, that's a theft (but not a robbery).

If someone breaks into my house and steals things while I'm not there, that's a burglary or theft (but not a robbery).

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"robbery" is a precisely defined legal term. It is a crime.

"mugging" is often not a separately defined crime.

For example, in the California penal code, "robbery" appears 36 times, while "mugging" appears 0 times.

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  • 2
    This is the right answer. The news reports are reporting the "crime" with which the perpetrator was charged. "Mugging" is not a legally defined crime in many (most? all?) jurisdictions. – Waylan Feb 24 '17 at 18:15
  • The news uses mugging abc7chicago.com/news/… and lawyers use mugging losangelescriminallawyer.pro/… Unless it's in a legal context, how a crime is named in a particular jurisdiction doesn't necessarily dictate its name in common usage. – ColleenV Feb 24 '17 at 18:50

Webster's dictionary defines "mugging" as:

to assault or menace, especially with the intention of robbery.

So they can be used interchangeably sometimes.

If someone "robs" a bank for example then it could be with or without force or violence, however, "mugging" always gives the impression that there was a degree of violence in the process. If there was no force or threat then you could just say "you were robbed".

So in your examples I believe "mugging" could be used as well. It wouldn't be wrong.

Here is a link for your understanding.

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Robbery could be one of several closely-related crimes. For example:

I was a victim of a robbery when...

  • I came home and found my home broken into and possessions stolen.
  • my car was stolen while I was in the store.
  • someone threatened me with a gun and demanded my wallet or purse.

The key here is that while threat of violence may be involved ("give me your stuff or I'll shoot/stab you!") the focus is on the act of stealing. It can also be applied to property, not just people.

Mugging has a violent connotation to it:

  • A man mugged me by sucker-punching me from behind and stealing my wallet/purse while I lay prone on the ground.

It is not used to target property, only people.

The key differences are:

  • Robbery can target a person.
    • I was robbed while walking down the street.
  • Robbery can target property.
    • My house was robbed while I was away at work.
  • Mugging can target a person.
    • I was mugged while walking down the street.
  • Mugging cannot target property.
    • My house was mugged while I was away at work (this is incorrect usage).
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  • This is correct for the common definition of "robbery". The legal definition generally requires action against a person otherwise it's "theft" (or "burglary"). – Andrew Feb 24 '17 at 20:42

I would disagree with the Cambridge dictionary definition as quoted by the OP.

Having been in the jury of a robbery trial in the UK, the judge's instructions to the jury defined "robbery" as "theft plus violence, or the threat of violence". That is consistent with https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/rob - "to take property unlawfully from (a person or place) by force or threat of force."

Actually, the Cambridge dictionary includes "violence" in its definition of "rob": "To take money or property illegally from a place, organization, or person, often using violence" http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/rob

The Cambridge definition of "robbery" seems incomplete in not distinguishing "robbery" from "theft" (which does not necessarily involve violence).

I think the distinction between "robbery" and "mugging" is mostly about the motivation. The main objective of "robbery" is to steal something, using or threatening violence as necessary. the main objective of "mugging" is to attack somebody, and the motivation may or may not be theft - it might be race, religion, membership of a particular organization, sexual orientation, etc.

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  • The common definition of robbery is to steal from a person. The legal definition adds "fear or force", otherwise (I believe) it's considered "theft" which may be a lesser crime. Using this, there is no legal distinction between a "mugging" and a "robbery" since both have the same elements, including the intent to steal property. Without that intent, a mugging becomes an "assault". – Andrew Feb 24 '17 at 20:40

In addition to the above answers, I also feel that mugging is a more casual word, so it is less likely to be used in a newspaper.

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