be·lie | \bi-ˈlī, bē-\
belied; belying

Definition of belie 

transitive verb

1a : to give a false impression of Her gentleness belies her strength.

b : to present an appearance not in agreement with His manner and appearance belie his age.

2a : to show (something) to be false or wrong The evidence belies their claims of innocence.

b : to run counter to : contradict … appeared to belie all the rosy things I had heard about it.— Katherine T. Kinkead

3 : disguise sense 3 An air of rural charm … belies the community's industrial activity.American Guide Series: Pennsylvania

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from belie

belier \bi-ˈlī(-ə)r, bē- \ noun

Did You Know?

What is a lie? asked Lord Byron in Don Juan. He then answered himself: "'Tis but the truth in masquerade. . . ." The history of "belie" illustrates a certain connection between lying and disguising. In its earliest known use, around A.D. 1000, belie meant "to deceive by lying." By the 1200s, it was being used to mean "to tell lies about," using a sense similar to that of the modern word slander. Over time its meaning softened, shifting from an act of outright lying to one of mere misrepresentation, and by the early 1700s, the word was being used in the sense "to disguise or conceal." Nowadays, "belie" suggests giving an impression at variance with the facts rather than telling an intentional untruth.

Examples of belie in a Sentence

a tree whose delicate beauty belies its real toughness Their actions belie their claim to be innocent.

Recent Examples on the Web

His cross-eyes and panting-dog demeanor belie a natural genius, which is the player's talent at jumping on enemies and spinning into them like a dervish to vanquish them. Harold Goldberg,, "Classic games, lovingly reimagined in 'Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy'," 13 July 2018 To wit: One of the menu’s most popular items is Crispy Pig Face, whose pithy name belies its long prep time of smoking pork heads and shoulders. Michael Meyer, New York Times, "A Pittsburgh Area Restaurant That Trades Fussy for Fun," 7 July 2018 Photo: Rodrigo Cardoso for The Wall Street Journal The simple shape belies a complex array of soaring spaces, interior vistas and secluded bedrooms, accented with quirky details, like cars visible from the dining room. J. S. Marcus, WSJ, "Where Luxury Meets a Prefab Home," 27 June 2018 Some appear on traditional lined notebook paper, conveying a sense of innocence that belies the gravity of their authors’ purpose. Jeff Barker,, "School shootings inspire Maryland students to write — or text — first letters to lawmakers," 24 June 2018 Though Jessica looks happy, the Polaroids belie a darker truth., "The Polaroids in the 13 Reasons Why Trailer Have Major Clues For Season 2," 1 May 2018 James should have been a fifth-round pick, as his hands and elusiveness are top-notch and his toughness belies his slight frame. Noel Harris, sacbee, "49ers draft grades: Some surprise picks lead to a wide range of marks for 2018 class | The Sacramento Bee," 29 Apr. 2018 Blessed with great size and a solid bench, Golda Meir’s talent belies its 6-4 record. Mark Stewart, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Robinson, Golda Meir ready to step into the spotlight," 9 Jan. 2018 But the strength of this team is that its young players already have wise heads that belie their tender years. John Leicester,, "With World Cup title, France could launch a dynasty," 10 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'belie.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of belie

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for belie

Middle English belien, going back to Old English belēogan, from be- be- + lēogan "to lie entry 3"

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about belie

Listen to Our Podcast about belie

Statistics for belie

Last Updated

20 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for belie

The first known use of belie was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for belie



English Language Learners Definition of belie

: to give a false idea of (something)

: to show (something) to be false or wrong


be·lie | \bi-ˈlī \
belied; belying

Kids Definition of belie

1 : to give a false idea of Her voice was strong and even, belying her eighty-two years.— Kevin Henkes, Olive's Ocean

2 : to show to be false Their actions belie their claim of innocence.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on belie

What made you want to look up belie? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a state of commotion or excitement

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!