The Dehumanized thief

Dallachy, F. (2016) The Dehumanized thief. In: Anderson, W., Bramwell, E. and Hough, C. (eds.) Mapping English Metaphor Through Time. Oxford University Press: Oxford, pp. 208-220. ISBN 9780198744573

Full text not currently available from Enlighten.

Publisher's URL:


Metaphors for theft and thieves in Mapping Metaphor’s ‘Taking’ category suggest that thieves are very commonly viewed as animals. This chapter enumerates some of these examples, investigating groupings of terms which suggest that small-scale opportunistic theft is conceived of as similar to the acts of vermin, particularly rodents and insects, whilst more aggressive robbers are linked with the vocabulary of predation (albeit rarely with specific animals). Birds are considered to be an interesting subset for their ability to straddle the line between petty thief and predator. The patterns in the ‘Taking’ data appear to be related to society’s tendency to view criminals or ‘outsider’ groups as less than human, with speakers establishing a psychological distance between themselves and those who act against the law.

Item Type:Book Sections
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Dallachy, Dr Fraser
Authors: Dallachy, F.
Subjects:P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
P Language and Literature > PE English
College/School:College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Language and Linguistics
Publisher:Oxford University Press

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record

Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
547001Mapping Metaphor with the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English DictionaryWendy AndersonArts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)AH/I02266X/1CRIT - ENGLISH LANGUAGE & LINGUISTICS