be·​tide bi-ˈtīd How to pronounce betide (audio)
betided; betiding; betides

intransitive verb

: to happen especially as if by fate

transitive verb

: to happen to : befall
used chiefly in the phrase woe betide
woe betide our enemies

Examples of betide in a Sentence

we will be happy in our new home, whatever may betide
Recent Examples on the Web Woe betide the ally who runs afoul of American progressive opinion. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 29 Mar. 2023 Woe betide any companion who tried to talk to him. Nikhil Krishnan, The New Yorker, 9 May 2022 Yet another reason is that Washington bureau chiefs and other representatives of upper management often strategize with White House reporters about what to ask, and woe betide the White House reporter who blows off the bosses’ suggestions just because too many cooks spoiled the broth. Timothy Noah, The New Republic, 26 Jan. 2022 Critics have been sent the season’s first four episodes, but woe betide anybody who spoils much of anything about this run of backstabbing adventures in the realm of excess. Angie Han, The Hollywood Reporter, 22 Mar. 2023 This is a standard that the women themselves are keenly aware of, and woe betide the MILF who doesn’t fit the bill. Naomi Fry, The New Yorker, 21 Jan. 2023 If loans to today’s students are forgiven, tomorrow’s students will have every reason to expect the same break—and woe betide the politician who says no to them. WSJ, 7 July 2022 Pro-drainage legislation helped the process along, and woe betide the landowner who resisted his neighbor’s drain work. Annie Proulx, The New Yorker, 27 June 2022 Like California itself, so long isolated from the East and Midwest, California fast food was the first fast food, sui generis, and woe betide most interloper chains trying to cross the Rockies and the desert to plant themselves here. Los Angeles Times, 5 Apr. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'betide.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of betide was in the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near betide

Cite this Entry

“Betide.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


be·​tide bi-ˈtīd How to pronounce betide (audio)
betided; betiding
: to happen or happen to
woe betide you if they ever find out what you've done
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