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kleptomaniac (klep-tuh-MAY-nee-ak) noun

A person having an obsessive urge to steal, driven by emotional disturbance rather than material need.

[From Greek klepto-, from kleptes (thief) + -mania (madness).]

See more usage examples of kleptomaniac in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

From The Devil's Dictionary: Kleptomaniac, n. A rich thief.

"[Winona Ryder] told the court, which convicted her of theft, that she was getting into character for the part of a kleptomaniac in a new film."
Sarah Boseley; Why Do Women Steal?; The Guardian (London, UK); Jul 21, 2003.

This week's A.Word.A.Day presents five words from The Devil's Dictionary by satirist Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914). First published as The Cynic's Word Book, "a name which the author had not the power to reject or happiness to approve", the Dictionary is a compilation of witty, aphoristic definitions he penned over the years for the San Francisco journal Wasp. His succinct style, acid wit, and keen observation of life are evident in almost every entry, such as: "Apologize - To lay the foundation for a future offence", and "Politics - A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage." Like all genuine satire, while these are funny there is more than a grain of truth in them.

-Anu Garg


Any fool can destroy trees. They cannot run away; and if they could, they would still be destroyed, chased and hunted down as long as fun or a dollar could be got out of their bark hides, branching horns, or magnificent bole backbones. Few that fell trees plant them; nor would planting avail much towards getting back anything like the noble primeval forests. -John Muir, naturalist, explorer, and writer (1838-1914)

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