Steal vs steel

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To steal something is to take it without permission or not having ownership. The past tense is stole, the progressive is stealing, and the adjective form is stolen. A steal, as a noun, is something that is on sale or thought of as a bargain.

A commonly confused homonym for steal is steel

Steel is a man-made material, a very strong metal formed from iron and carbon. The word is also used as an adjective to describe an object as being made of or relating to steel.

One related term that is often misspelled is steely, an adjective used to describe something or someone as imitating steel or having qualities like steel, such as being hard or firm or cold. Things can be steelier or steeliest. The noun form is steeliness.


A bizarre video has emerged that shows a thief ‘pretending to be drunk’ so that he can steal a moped from a car park in south China. [The Independent]

Austrian welder Alois Leitner fuses strips of steel and aluminum alloys in what could be part of a historic breakthrough. [The Wall Street Journal]

Thankfully, the trio showed steely determination in the final game. [The Star Online]

“You see those steely eyes get a little steelier,” Hanulik said of Dudamel, who has hired 19 musicians since he took over as music director in 2009. [LA Times]

It’s a dynamic and focused team – but even the steeliest members of the team are beginning to crack. [The Guardian]