An Etymological Dictionary of the German Language/Annotated/Dieb
Dieb, masculine, ‘thief,’ from the equivalent Middle High German diep(b), Old High German diob, masculine; common to the Teutonic group; compare Gothic þiufs(b), Dutch dief, Anglo-Saxon þeóf, English thief. The word cannot be traced beyond Teutonic. In the sense of ‘Diebstahl,’ English has a form with a dental suffix — Anglo-Saxon þŷfþ, feminine (Old Icelandic þýfð, singular, Gothic *þiubiþa), English theft. The form in High German is a j- stem — Old High German diuba (diuva), Middle High German diube (diuve), earlier Modern High German Deube (as late as Logau, 1604-1655), which is now met with only in Wilddeube, ‘petty poaching.’ The latter forms the base of Modern High German Diebstahl, in Middle High German diepstâle and diupstâle (Old Swedish þiufstolet), literally ‘theft-stealing.’ The second part of the compound expresses the same idea as the first; Dieb is simply the concrete which has replaced the abstract; compare Gothic þiubi, neuter, and its adverb form þiubjô, ‘secretly.’ Besides the masculine Dieb, there existed in Old High German and Middle High German a feminine form, which in Gothic would have been *þiubi; compare Old High German diupa, Middle High German diupe, ‘female thief.’ We must seek for the primitively word in a pre-Teutonic root with a final p; this is proved by Old High German diuva, Middle High German diuve, feminine, ‘theft’; compare the Aryan root tup, ‘to duck,’ under Ducht.