For example, if you have a barbershop, and I start giving away free haircuts, you are going to be peeved. Not just dumping, but a sense of "Hey, that's my job!" Or if I would feel I have the right to do business in a location and you horn in on my good hunting grounds.

Sample sentence: Sanctioned suicide supporter asks "HOW IS MY ATTEMPT TO KILL MYSELF ANYBODY’S BUSINESS?" and wiseacre responds "You see, killing is my business. You're xxxing my yyy."

  • 2
    Competing for business is not stealing--nor is it poaching.
    – Xanne
    Apr 28, 2017 at 2:37
  • As a human activity, there are norms, legitimacy, and other social bullying besides regular market competition. "Unfair competition" could be an answer to my question.
    – Noumenon
    Apr 28, 2017 at 2:41
  • 1
    If you already knew the answer, why ask? If you are asking for words about unfair competition, perhaps you should so state, and provide an example sentence.
    – Xanne
    Apr 28, 2017 at 2:49
  • 1
    @Xanne however, whether there are words that mean "unfair competition" is a matter of ELU . You are correct that we cannot judge whether that word pertains to a certain set of facts.
    – Tom22
    Apr 28, 2017 at 3:14
  • 1
    also, stealing has the other very commonly used sense as used in sports.... stealing the ball (which is an essential skill to excel in in many games) or for a given actress to "steal the show", or for a new TV show to steal previous viewers from another shown at the same time.
    – Tom22
    Apr 28, 2017 at 3:23

6 Answers 6


Poaching customers from another business, a secondary definition of "poach".

  • Poaching is not covered by the term competition.
    – Xanne
    Apr 28, 2017 at 2:39
  • 3
    Perhaps the question is multifaceted. The third sentence, for example, seems to suggest opening a similar business in the same location as an already established business. Arriving at the same location you always do to find not one but two businesses providing the same or comparable services seems to have nothing to do with outcompeting (lower prices, faster service, etc) and everything to do with the fact that people already patronize the existing business. What happens regardless of location is competition, of course. The location in addition to the competition seems to be for poaching.
    – lirmont
    Apr 28, 2017 at 2:57

In the particular example you gave with the barber shop, business-speak might call that undercutting. It can also be called predatory pricing, though if someone is giving away haircuts for free, using the word "pricing" seems inappropriate.

Predatory pricing (also undercutting) is a risky and dubious pricing strategy where a product or service is set at a very low price, intending to drive competitors out of the market, or create barriers to entry for potential new competitors. Theoretically if competitors or potential competitors cannot sustain equal or lower prices without losing money, they go out of business or choose not to enter the business. The so called predatory merchant then theoretically has fewer competitors or is even a de facto monopoly.

For example, Amazon has been accused of predatory pricing, selling items at such low prices that they make no profit, but in the process wiping out competitors who don't have as much capital and can't compete. See this article in CNBC:

[Amazon] engaged in "predatory pricing." Amazon can currently purchase a book for $13, for example, and then sell it for $9, Kohn said. With customers hungry for a discount, Amazon will continue to sell books at a discount until it has captured nearly all of the market share.



  1. Surpass in a competitive situation.


For example the title of the article on Meredith Harrington uses the word in the business context:

Outcompeting the Competition


Specifically in relation to stealing in the business context:

Don't let your competition steal your customers away

Without a clearly defined strategy geared toward keeping your name in front of your patients-of-record periodically, it will be almost impossible for you to outcompete the practices just around the corner.


  • But outcompeting is not stealing.
    – Xanne
    Apr 28, 2017 at 2:58
  • 2
    In the business context, yes it is.
    – Gary
    Apr 28, 2017 at 3:00

To scoop is used in publishing (professional and academical) when your competitors publish the same news, research, etc you were about to publish just before you do.


The wikipedia article on pricing strategies is intersting here. Picking out a few that are particularly relevant:

  • Penetration pricing is a pricing strategy where the price of a product is initially set low to rapidly reach a wide fraction of the market and initiate word of mouth.
  • A loss leader ... is a pricing strategy where a product is sold at a price below its market cost to stimulate other sales of more profitable goods or services
  • Suicide bidding is a response to a tendering exercise in which a potential supplier, anxious to win business, submits a proposal to carry out the work for less than it will cost.

Competition (economics) has nothing to do with theft. It has to do with competition in the marketplace.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Adjacent advertisements in an 1885 newspaper for the makers of two competing ore concentrators (machines that separate out valuable ores from undesired minerals). The lower ad touts that their price is lower, and that their machine's quality and efficiency was demonstrated to be higher, both of which are general means of economic competition.

In economics, "competition" is the rivalry among sellers trying to achieve such goals as increasing profits, market share, and sales volume by varying the elements of the marketing mix: price, product, distribution, and promotion. Merriam-Webster defines competition in business as "the effort of two or more parties acting independently to secure the business of a third party by offering the most favorable terms".[1] In his 1776 The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith described it as the exercise of allocating productive resources to their most highly valued uses and encouraging efficiency, an explanation that quickly found support among liberal economists opposing the monopolistic practices of mercantilism, the dominant economic philosophy of the time.

Anti-competitive practices

Main article: (Wikipedia) Anti-competitive practices

A practice is anti-competitive if it is deemed to unfairly distort free and effective competition in the marketplace.* Examples include cartelization (collusion among companies producing the same product or services to fix the price of goods or services intended to mutual higher profit), predatory pricing, and abuse of a dominant position.[7]

  • 2
    This is just one example I found within about 2 minutes on Google: "Don't let your competition steal your customers away" patientnews.com/article/… - "Without a clearly defined strategy geared toward keeping your name in front of your patients-of-record periodically, it will be almost impossible for you to outcompete the practices just around the corner."
    – Gary
    Apr 28, 2017 at 3:53
  • 2
    The OP never used the word "theft," they used the word "steal." to seize, gain, or win by trickery, skill, or daring. You can steal a ball in sports, steal the spotlight from a performer, steal an idea from someone, or indeed, steal business from a competitor. Apr 28, 2017 at 4:15

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