verb (used with object)

  1. to borrow (a small item or amount) without intending to return or repay it.
  2. to get or take without paying or at another’s expense; sponge: He always mooches cigarettes.
  3. to beg.
  4. to steal.

verb (used without object)

  1. to skulk or sneak.
  2. to loiter or wander about.


  1. Also mooch·er. a person who mooches.

verb slang

  1. (intr often foll by around) to loiter or walk aimlessly
  2. (intr) to behave in an apathetic way
  3. (intr) to sneak or lurk; skulk
  4. (tr) to cadge
  5. (tr) mainly US and Canadian to steal

n.“beggar, scrounger,” 1857, agent noun from mooch (v.). v.mid-15c., “pretend poverty,” probably from Old French muchier, mucier “to hide, sulk, conceal, hide away, keep out of sight,” of uncertain origin, perhaps from Celtic or Germanic (Liberman prefers the latter, Klein the former). Or the word may be a variant of Middle English mucchen “to hoard, be stingy” (c.1300), probably originally “to keep coins in one’s nightcap,” from mucche “nightcap,” from Middle Dutch muste “cap, nightcap,” ultimately from Medieval Latin almucia, of unknown origin. Sense of “sponge off others” first recorded 1857. Whatever the distant origin of mooch, the verb *mycan and its cognates have been part of European slang for at least two millennia. [Liberman] Related: Mooched; mooching. As a noun meaning “a moocher,” from 1914.

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