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 betray (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 Vowing retribution for those who betray Trump, Terrell painted a picture of weak-willed, opportunistic Republicans worthy of primary challengers during his accompanying KABC broadcast. Carly Roman, Washington Examiner, "GOP convert Leo Terrell vows to 'campaign against' Republicans backing Trump removal," 11 Jan. 2021 Social media such as Facebook and Instagram can betray many details of our lives. David Lazarus, Los Angeles Times, "Column: Amid your Black Friday shopping, keep watch for holiday scams," 27 Nov. 2020 Diana’s boys, even if furious with each other, will not betray each other to the wider world. Washington Post, "Fans of ‘The Crown’ want to know more about the Windsors. These five books should help.," 17 Nov. 2020 Then suddenly, with a bloodcurdling roar the cunning beast made another rush at me—a ruse to betray me into action. Field & Stream, "F&S Classics: Mauled by a Grizzly," 12 Dec. 2020 It’s not too much to say Texas wants the Supreme Court to betray the U.S. constitutional order in a purported effort to save it. The Editors, National Review, "Texas Unleashes an Absurd Kraken," 11 Dec. 2020 The sizzling ethical-dramatic question that drives The Social Network is: Why did Zuckerberg betray these people? Christian Holub,, "Every David Fincher movie, ranked by EW grade," 3 Dec. 2020 None of Trump’s current actions, of course, betray any intention to leave. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, "The dangers of Trump’s last stand," 11 Nov. 2020 If a conservator can’t yet see the effects of the fungus visually, perhaps the microbe’s DNA could betray its presence. Matt Simon, Wired, "Meet the Microbes Living on Da Vinci’s Iconic Sketches," 25 Nov. 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

22 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Betray.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jan. 2021.

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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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