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

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Other Words from belie

belier \bi-​ˈlī(-​ə)r, bē-​ \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for belie




betray, represent

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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

The positivity belies an increasingly precarious financial position. Brian Barrett, WIRED, "Even if MoviePass Dies, It Changed Moviegoing For Good," 20 June 2018 And the idea that control of Time Warner channels like CNN and TBS would be like owning a cure for cancer was silly on its face and belied by the data pouring in from the real world where customers are fleeing traditional cable in droves. Holman W. Jenkins, WSJ, "On Big Media, the Court Speaks," 12 June 2018 Like Alessandro di Prisco’s bulbous concrete chairs, 7.5’s benches have a softness that belies the material’s hard touch. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "These 3D-printed concrete benches look woven," 29 Aug. 2018 What perhaps impressed Spurs veterans and coaches alike in Murray was a natural leadership quality that belied his tender age. Jeff Mcdonald, San Antonio Express-News, "For Spurs’ Murray, summertime is no vacation," 27 Apr. 2018 Economists like to say that expansions don’t die of old age—a notion that belies the fact that all previous expansions, save one, have indeed died before reaching the age of this one. Alan Murray, Fortune, "Xiaomi Flop, Brexit Resignation, Formula Lobbying: CEO Daily for July 9, 2018," 9 July 2018 Maurice Acker displayed a toughness that belied his diminutive frame. Ben Steele, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Golden Eagles Alumni band together for opening win in The Basketball Tournament," 30 June 2018 Some appear on traditional lined notebook paper, conveying a sense of innocence that belies the gravity of their authors’ purpose. Jeff Barker, Washington Post, "School shootings spur students to write — or text — letters to lawmakers," 28 June 2018 All those same questions popped up again in the first half, when the Rockets were beating the Warriors to every loose ball and Golden State played with a level of sloppiness that belied the high stakes. Sam Amick, USA TODAY, "How the Warriors fended off the Rockets in Game 7 to save their would-be dynasty," 29 May 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.

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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"

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Statistics for belie

Last Updated

15 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for belie

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

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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.

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More from Merriam-Webster on belie

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with belie

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for belie

Spanish Central: Translation of belie

Nglish: Translation of belie for Spanish Speakers

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a nest or breeding place

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