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Peculation is the wrongful appropriation of public property, money, or goods entrusted to another’s guardianship, typically a public official, for personal use. Depeculation, a related phrase, is used to specify an act of peculation which draws from a public treasury. Peculation is sometimes used as a synonym for embezzlement; however, it is distinct in that it does not involve the fraudulent taking of personal property or money unlike embezzlement. Over time both terms have come to more generally signify the act of wrongfully taking property that one was charged with guardianship over, though both are also still used according to their traditional definitions. 

[Last updated in July of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]