be·​tray | \ bi-ˈtrā How to pronounce betray (audio) , bē- \
betrayed; betraying; betrays

Definition of betray

transitive verb

1 : to lead astray especially : seduce a nation betrayed into violence a teenager betrayed by a much older man
2 : to deliver to an enemy by treachery was betrayed to the authorities by one of his students betraying one's own country
3 : to fail or desert especially in time of need betrayed his family felt that she would be betraying her principles You've betrayed our trust.
4a : to reveal unintentionally betray one's true feelings
b : show, indicate His best columns betray … the philosophical bent of his mind.— John Mason Brown
c : to disclose in violation of confidence betray a secret

intransitive verb

: to prove false

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Other Words from betray

betrayer \ bi-​ˈtrā-​ər How to pronounce betrayer (audio) , bē-​ \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for betray



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Choose the Right Synonym for betray

reveal, disclose, divulge, tell, betray mean to make known what has been or should be concealed. reveal may apply to supernatural or inspired revelation of truths beyond the range of ordinary human vision or reason. divine will as revealed in sacred writings disclose may imply a discovering but more often an imparting of information previously kept secret. candidates must disclose their financial assets divulge implies a disclosure involving some impropriety or breach of confidence. refused to divulge an anonymous source tell implies an imparting of necessary or useful information. told them what he had overheard betray implies a divulging that represents a breach of faith or an involuntary or unconscious disclosure. a blush that betrayed her embarrassment

Examples of betray in a Sentence

They betrayed their country by selling its secrets to other governments. She is very loyal and would never betray a friend. She betrayed her own people by supporting the enemy. She coughed, betraying her presence behind the door.
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Recent Examples on the Web To wear a mask, perhaps above all, is to betray the leader. Megan Garber, The Atlantic, "Donald Trump’s Dangerous Mask Trap," 9 Oct. 2020 The movie is not exactly formulaic but has a familiar feel from the studio: talking animals, (figurative) fish out of water, friends who betray friends, rain, forgiveness, happily ever after. Dewayne Bevil,, "Disney Plus review: The twisted tale of ‘Oliver & Company’," 2 Oct. 2020 The Number One Boy chose to betray media tycoon Logan Roy, who set up his son to take the fall for Waystar Royco's wrongdoings, throwing a major wrench into the patriarch's plans for his heirs. Neha Prakash, Marie Claire, "'Succession' Season 3: Everything We Know So Far," 21 Sep. 2020 On the cosmic street, a loud presence might betray the primitive mindset of recklessness. Avi Loeb, Scientific American, "Social Distancing on a Cosmic Scale," 23 Sep. 2020 The Everson Museum of Art, which plans to auction off its prize Pollock painting, is using the laudable aim of funding a more diverse collection as an excuse to betray the public trust. Terry Teachout, WSJ, "An Art Museum Sells Its Soul," 22 Sep. 2020 Both betray an impoverished view of American interest. Tim Fernholz, Quartz, "The case for a billion Americans," 19 Sep. 2020 Modest markers betray the graves beneath them, and a nearby monument now memorializes the dead, with their names engraved in granite. Jordan Erb, The Indianapolis Star, "Remembering the forgotten: Museum enumerates Central State Hospital's unmarked graves," 19 Sep. 2020 Eisinger found that prosecutors belong to the same class as the people who commit the most egregious white-collar crime, are frequently enmeshed in the same alumni and professional networks, and are loath to betray their own. Robin Kaiser-schatzlein, The New Republic, "How White-Collar Criminals Get Away With It," 15 Sep. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'betray.' 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 betray

13th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for betray

Middle English, from be- + trayen to betray, from Anglo-French trahir, from Latin tradere — more at traitor

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Time Traveler for betray

Time Traveler

The first known use of betray was in the 13th century

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Statistics for betray

Last Updated

24 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Betray.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for betray


How to pronounce betray (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of betray

: to give information about (a person, group, country, etc.) to an enemy
: to hurt (someone who trusts you, such as a friend or relative) by not giving help or by doing something morally wrong
: to show (something, such as a feeling or desire) without wanting or trying to


be·​tray | \ bi-ˈtrā How to pronounce betray (audio) \
betrayed; betraying

Kids Definition of betray

1 : to give over to an enemy by treason or treachery betray a fort
2 : to be unfaithful to betray a friend betrayed our trust
3 : to reveal or show without meaning to betray fear
4 : to tell in violation of a trust betray a secret

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Comments on betray

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