Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Is it correct to use the verb pickpocket before the item being taken from someone's pocket?

Pickpocket a pouch of gold

Or can you only use pickpocket before the person whose item is being taken?

Pickpocket a tourist

share|improve this question
Dictionary example would have been enough. –  Sȱɳɨȼ Ʈħe ǶḝÐɠḝħȱɠ Sep 3 '11 at 13:32
@Chaos: Now that you made me think of it, this might be a GenRef... –  Alenanno Sep 3 '11 at 13:34
@Alenanno Least you answered it. –  Sȱɳɨȼ Ʈħe ǶḝÐɠḝħȱɠ Sep 3 '11 at 13:35
@Abdulla, I think the question about what type of object pickpocket takes is a good one and on-topic. Please edit your question to reflect what you said in your comment. –  KitFox Sep 3 '11 at 13:39
@Kyle: The OALD provides many, many examples of words in use. I agree with the existing close votes as general reference. –  simchona Sep 3 '11 at 14:08
show 8 more comments

closed as general reference by Jasper Loy, Alenanno, KitFox, simchona, aedia λ Sep 4 '11 at 3:56

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

4 Answers

Typically, "pickpocket" isn't used in this way, although it can be, and is listed in dictionaries as a verb. Usually, someone might say "I was pickpocketed" (i.e. -- an intransitive usage), but it's rather rare to hear someone say "S/He pickpocketed his/her money."

Most times that I have come across this idea, the verb used is "lift", as in:

"You lift a pouch of gold from your victim."

Other common verbs are to "steal", "pilfer", "swipe", and -- in Britain (but not in the US), to "pinch".

share|improve this answer
+1 for alternative verbs that can take an object other than the victim(s). Purloin also comes to mind, but again that might be a bit British (and/or dated). –  FumbleFingers Sep 3 '11 at 15:17
"Purloin", though, is so much more fun to say.... –  Kyle Pearson Sep 3 '11 at 18:10
add comment

Pickpocket is primarily used as a noun, but it can be used as a verb. But if you are a pickpocket, you probably shouldn't go around telling anyone that you are going to pickpocket a pouch of gold from someone!

share|improve this answer
add comment

While it's true that "pickpocket" is primarily a noun, it's also a verb. The verb means steal from the pockets of (someone).

The only occurrences I found are with a noun that refers to people, e.g. tourists, or without any argument, so a intransitive verb. The examples are these ones:

  1. "She stopped in New Orleans where she skillfully pickpocketed tourists."
  2. [no obj.] — "An elderly man caught pickpocketing in Times Square."

I couldn't find anything where you use the "object" where you take the money from. The only one I found was "to pick sb's pocket".

share|improve this answer
add comment

I would say the "pickpocket" is a compound word, in which "pick" is a verb, and "pocket" is a noun (except when it is a reference to the PERSON who does the same).

In American English at least, you don't "pickpocket" a tourist. Instead, you pick a tourist's POCKET. (Split up the verb and noun around tourist.)

You don't "pickpocket" a pouch of gold. You pick a pocket (or pouch) of gold. (Pocket and pouch are synonyms in this context.)

share|improve this answer
add comment

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.