be·tray | \bi-ˈtrā, 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

betrayal \bi-ˈtrā(-ə)l, bē- \ noun
betrayer \bi-ˈtrā-ər, bē- \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for betray


backstab, cross, double-cross, sell (out), two-time


stand by

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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

There would be no time slots and no channels, no waiting until next week to see whom the Lannisters betray or the Good Wife sleeps with. The Economist, "Netflix is moving television beyond time-slots and national markets," 28 June 2018 In fact, Trump had secured nothing except the same vague commitment to dismantling North Korea’s nuclear program which the regime has offered and routinely betrayed in the past. George Packer, The New Yorker, "Donald Trump Goes Rogue," 17 June 2018 The speech so infuriated Johnson that when Pearson traveled to Camp David in 1965, Johnson berated him for betraying him, at one point grabbing him by the lapel. Amanda Coletta, Washington Post, "Justin isn’t the first Trudeau to clash with an American president," 14 June 2018 As seemingly the only member of Markle’s immediate family who has not spoken about her—or indeed betrayed or trashed her—in the media, Ragland is no doubt weighing the decision of who to speak with (or whether to speak at all) quite carefully. Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, "What Exactly Is Going On Between American Royals Doria Ragland and Oprah?," 12 June 2018 Choe said comparisons with Libya betrayed Pence's lack of knowledge. Kim Chatelain,, "88 immigrants found 'packed like sardines' in trailer with avocados: report," 23 May 2018 The polished look of the restaurant somewhat betrays the perception of portion size—$10 still gets you plenty of food. Adam Lukach, RedEye Chicago, "12 places to grab food and drinks around our favorite music venues in Chicago," 18 Oct. 2017 Fans got #TomlinsonSlaysAgain trending on Twitter, posting messages about feeling majorly betrayed by Zayn turning on Louis in such a public way. Noelle Devoe, Seventeen, "Zayn Malik Defends Himself After Dissing Louis Tomlinson: "People Got It Twisted"," 7 May 2015 His location was betrayed by his bicycle, which the soldiers spotted near the side of the road. Matías Costa, Smithsonian, "The Battle Over the Memory of the Spanish Civil War," 28 June 2018

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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Statistics for betray

Last Updated

5 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for betray

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

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More Definitions for betray



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 \
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

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


a state of commotion or excitement

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