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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

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closed as general reference by Jasper Loy, Alenanno, Kit Z. Fox, 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.

Dictionary example would have been enough. – Phonics The Hedgehog 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. – Phonics The Hedgehog 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. – Kit Z. Fox 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

4 Answers 4

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".

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+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

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!

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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".

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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.)

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