• purloin •
pêr-loyn • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Verb, transitive
Meaning: To steal, swipe, misappropriate.
Notes: Today's Good Word is a poetic synonym of steal that is used mostly humorously these days. Someone who purloins things is obviously a purloiner and a purloiner's activity is purloinment or simply purloining. Look out for the initial syllable: not pEr, but pUr.
In Play: The sense of today's word is limited to the original meaning of steal: "The art theft was assumed to have been committed by a master burglar until it was discovered that purloined keys had been used to gain access to the museum." We can't 'purloin' a base in baseball, but everything else is purloinable: "Robin Storrs made a living purloining items from department stores then returning them for refunds."
Word History: This Good Word comes to us from Middle English purloinen "to remove", a borrowing of Anglo-French purloigner "to remove", from Old French porloigner "put off, delay, prolong; to be far away". The Old French word is made up of por- "in advance, completely" + loing "far away". The Old French prefix por- converted to English pur- in several other words: pursue, purlieu, and purchase. It goes back to the same PIE word that produced Latin per "through, across, via". The same word came though our Germanic ancestors as for and fore. Today it is pour "for" in French. Old French loing (Modern French loin) is a descendant of Latin longus "long". We aren't sure where longus came from.