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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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.
Recent Examples on the Web Collectively, the dozen candidates would thus betray the presence of a population of thousands upon thousands of unseen, quieter kin. Lyndie Chiou, Scientific American, 5 Apr. 2022 And by God, did my search history betray my sense of deprivation. New York Times, 5 Apr. 2022 Salvos of expletives betray his excitement about fighting the Russians. Shafi Musaddique, The Christian Science Monitor, 22 Mar. 2022 Tensions and inconsistencies betray hesitant thinking. Felipe Fernández-armesto, WSJ, 11 Mar. 2022 That's par for the course with McDonagh, though the cheerful brutality of his work can sometimes betray a certain emptiness at the core; what are the stakes, when even a fatal miscarriage of justice is played for punchlines? Leah Greenblatt,, 22 Apr. 2022 The NPCs that help, betray, and frustrate Aiden are interesting and varied enough to interact with that the quests move along at a nice clip. Washington Post, 4 Feb. 2022 Daniele’s life on dry land seems nothing to write home about: we’re given but a brief glimpse of his humdrum job on an artichoke farm, while his conversations with girlfriend Maila betray little passion or intense emotional investment. Guy Lodge, Variety, 10 Apr. 2022 But although Faye doesn’t betray Fez, the tense exchange now turns fatal, leaving Fez to face the tragic consequences of his actions. Lovia Gyarkye, The Hollywood Reporter, 28 Feb. 2022 See More

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

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

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Last Updated

10 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Betray.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for betray


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

More from Merriam-Webster on betray

Nglish: Translation of betray for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of betray for Arabic Speakers


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