Is there a precise word to express following behavior?

The postman cleverly or secretly steals items in the mail before it reaches the receiver.

So for the part "cleverly/secretly stealing something", is there a precise word for it?

Thanks, Ahmed

  • Why doesn't steal work for you? Feb 1, 2021 at 16:50
  • 1
    A good 50-cent word for this context is purloin. In some contexts, abstract might be even better for implying "cleverly/secretly", but it won't work very well in many contexts. Pilfering is good for "less serious" thefts, and (slangy) snaffling is even better if you want to be at least slightly facetious. The choice depends to some extent on exactly what nuances are wanted. Feb 1, 2021 at 16:57
  • Swindle contextually means to fool someone out of something.
    – EllieK
    Feb 1, 2021 at 19:22

2 Answers 2


I suggest pilfer, a synonym of steal with a slightly different connotation:

especially: to steal stealthily in small amounts and often again and again

It seems like a good fit because you’re describing someone who keeps on stealing from the mail, and is trying to be sneaky about it.

Here’s an example in use:

Feds: Postal Service Employee Fesses Up to Pilfering Mail

  • 1
    Having put this one up myself in a comment, I can't really deny you an upvote! But (perhaps because some of my family have worked for UK Royal Mail) I think of "mail theft by mail workers" as far more serious than the monetary value of the thefts might imply (it's an extreme betrayal of trust, to me). And for me at least, pilfer always implies "minor / trivial theft" (helping yourself to office stationery products for personal use, say). Feb 1, 2021 at 17:10

Here are some suggestions:



Pirate (too dramatic in this case)

You can find more of those in this link.

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