Burglary or robbery?

16 Jan

This one is a bit delayed, as I remember all sorts of discussion about it around the time of the UK Riots in August 2011.  But it’s an interesting one, as things don’t always mean exactly what you think they do. So, burglary, robbery – and a little extra: theft.

Burglary is not, as people tend to think, stealing from a house. It actually refers very specifically to illegal entry into a building with the intent to commit a crime such as theft. This is why some of the rioters were convicted of burglary and people thought it was odd because it was a shop rather than a house that they were going in to. It’s similar to breaking and entering, which isn’t actually now a British legal term (according to the Concise Oxford – sue them, not me!) which is the crime of entering a building by force in order to commit burglary (remember, burglary just involves illegal entry, which doesn’t have to be forceful if, for example, you’ve stolen or copied a key).

Robbery is the action of stealing from a person or place, so you’d do a burglary in order to do a robbery, I suppose.

And our little bonus entry: theft is the action or crime of stealing.

Nice. Well, I was asked!

You can find more troublesome pairs here and the index to them all so far is here.

1 Comment

Posted by on January 16, 2012 in Errors, Language use, Troublesome pairs, Writing


Tags: , , ,

One response to “Burglary or robbery?

  1. Helen Palmer

    February 7, 2012 at 2:24 pm




I love hearing from my readers - do please leave a comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: