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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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 The names were an homage to Reservoir Dogs, the Quentin Tarantino classic film in which thieves betray and murder one another after an armed robbery. Brett Murphy, USA Today, "Inside the U.S. military raid against its own security guards that left dozens of Afghan children dead," 30 Dec. 2019 President Trump abused his power, betrayed our national security, and corrupted our elections, all for personal gain. Steve Geimann,, "House Panel Defends Impeachment Process From GOP Criticism," 7 Dec. 2019 This provoked an uproar among designers, many of whom felt betrayed by one of the field’s most eloquent advocates. Fortune, "Is Design That Important?," 12 Nov. 2019 The agreement has largely met Turkey’s aims, but left the Kurds feeling betrayed by Washington, which is currently pulling U.S. troops out of the area. Elena Becatoros, San Diego Union-Tribune, "High stakes for Putin, Erdogan summit on northeast Syria," 21 Oct. 2019 The Kurds, feeling betrayed by the U.S., in recent days partnered with Syrian government troops to protect themselves. Nabih Bulos, Los Angeles Times, "A race for control of Syria’s Manbij, with the U.S. nowhere in sight," 15 Oct. 2019 Bergeron says the Sun partners betrayed their agreement by selling to Waste Management, allowing Waste Management to control recycling in the county through its subcontract agreement. Larry Barszewski,, "Two South Florida cities turn their recyclables into trash," 3 July 2018 Several are in tech tees bearing the logo of the social-fitness app Strava, which betrays that this isn’t just an informal meetup but a team exercise. Joe Lindsey, Outside Online, "The Coach That Meets You in Your Inbox," 24 June 2019 When season 2 left off, Midge had also betrayed her perfect-on-paper new fiancé, Jewish surgeon Benjamin (Zachary Levi), for a tryst with estranged husband Joel (Michael Zegen). Jen Juneau,, "Rachel Brosnahan Shares BTS Photo from The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Ahead of Season 3 Premiere," 5 Dec. 2019

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

12 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Betray.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 21 January 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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More from Merriam-Webster on betray

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for betray

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with betray

Spanish Central: Translation of betray

Nglish: Translation of betray for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of betray for Arabic Speakers

Comments on betray

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


good-natured easy friendliness

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