The Past Tense of Steal: Here’s What It Is and How to Use It

Have you ever got stuck on the correct past tense of the word steal in English grammar? This article will explain the conjugations of the word steal and also define steal and give you all the information you need about the word to master it in the English language.

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What Is the Definition of the Word Steal?

The English verb steal is defined as:

Transitive verb 

  • to take (the property of another or others) without permission or right, especially secretly or by force:
    • A pickpocket stole his watch.
  • to appropriate (ideas, credit, words, etc.) without right or acknowledgment.
  • to take, get, or win insidiously, surreptitiously, subtly, or by chance:
    • He stole my girlfriend.
  • to move, bring, convey, or put secretly or quietly; smuggle (usually followed by away, from, in, into, etc.):
    • They stole the bicycle into the bedroom to surprise the child.
  • Baseball. (of a base runner) to gain (a base) without the help of a walk or batted ball, as by running to it during the delivery of a pitch.
  • Games. to gain (a point, advantage, etc.) by strategy, chance, or luck.
  • to gain or seize more than one’s share of attention in, as by giving a superior performance:
    • The comedian stole the show.

Intransitive Verb

  • to commit or practice theft.
  • to move, go, or come secretly, quietly, or unobserved:
    • She stole out of the house at midnight.
  • to pass, happen, etc., imperceptibly, gently, or gradually:
    • The years steal by.
  • Baseball. (of a base runner) to advance a base without the help of a walk or batted ball.


  • Informal. an act of stealing; theft.
  • Informal. the thing stolen; booty.
  • Informal. something acquired at a cost far below its real value; bargain:
    • This dress is a steal at $40.
  • Baseball. the act of advancing a base by stealing.

Synonyms of the Word

  • Pilfer – to steal, especially in small quantities
  • Kidnap – to steal, carry off, or abduct by force or fraud, especially for use as a hostage or to extract ransom
  • Swipe – informal: to steal 
  • Remove – to take off or shed
  • Plunder – to rob of goods
  • Take – to get into one’s holds or possession by voluntary action
  • Embezzle – to appropriate fraudulently to one’s own use, as money or property entrusted to one’s care.

What Is the Past Tense of Steal?

The past tense of the word steal is stole.

An example of present and past tense:

Present – A robber steals from innocent people.

Past – A pickpocket stole my phone as we were walking the busy streets of Barcelona.

How Do You Conjugate Steal?

Here are some verb conjugations of the word steal including the past tense verb forms:

Infinitive: to steal

Past participle: stolen

Present participle/gerund: stealing

Simple Present TenseSimple Past TenseFuture Tense
I stealstoleAm stealing
You stealstoleAre stealing
He/she/it stealsstoleIs stealing
We stealstoleAre stealing
They stealstoleAre stealing

The History and Origin of the Word

The word steal has been used since at least the year 900 A.D. In Middle English it was spelled stelen and in Old English it was spelled stelan. 

Examples of the Word in Context


Next time you need to write the word steal, you will be well prepared for everything you need to know what it is and how to use it efficiently. You should feel confident with the different conjugations, the history of the word, and the definition whether you’re using it in American English or British English.