Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for March 5, 2020 is:

filch • FILCH  • verb

: to steal secretly or casually


“Last November, thieves broke into a jewel room at the Royal Palace in Dresden, Germany, and took off with an array of precious jewelry…. One piece they failed to filch, however, was the Dresden Green, an elaborate diamond hat pin crafted around an extremely rare, almond-shaped celadon-green diamond.” — Sebastian Smee, The Washington Post, 10 Jan. 2020

“The family that lived there previously had been in it for 50 years, so it hadn’t been abandoned like so many other fixer-uppers near downtown. That was good news because many of the home’s small treasures—vintage glass doorknobs, wall sconces—hadn’t been filched or damaged.” — Richard A. Marini, The Houston Chronicle, 18 Aug. 2019

Did you know?

“I am glad I am so acquit of this tinder-box: his thefts were too open; his filching was like an unskilful singer—he kept not time.” So says Falstaff in William Shakespeare’s play The Merry Wives of Windsor. The Bard was fond of filch in both its literal and figurative uses; Iago, for example, says to Othello, “But he that filches from me my good name / Robs me of that which not enriches him / And makes me poor indeed.” Filch derives from the Middle English word filchen (“to attack” or “to steal”) and perhaps from Old English gefylce (“band of men, troop, army”). As a noun, filch once referred to a hooked staff used by thieves to snatch articles out of windows and from similar places, but this use is now obsolete.

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