: desiring, intending, professing, or having the potential to be
tips for would-be mothers and fathers
The conference, held over the Labor Day weekend, drew 1200 to 1300 writers and would-be writers to the Hawaiian island this year …John F. Baker
Possibly the most hilarious and outrageous character was Joey Tribbiani, a would-be actor who struggles to find success in his chosen profession …The Cheat Sheet
She's a clueless, would-be do-gooder without much self-awareness.Maureen Ryan

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web With his decades of experience in the industry, Mr. MacFarlane is troubled that lack of capital remains a barrier for would-be developers. Colette Coleman, New York Times, 3 Mar. 2023 The cherry on top is the matching anti-theft wristlet, which is armed with RFID technology to prevent your cards and ID from being scanned by would-be thieves. Kristine Solomon, Travel + Leisure, 2 Mar. 2023 That has pushed many would-be buyers back to the sidelines after a brief reprieve at the start of the year. Gina Heeb, WSJ, 2 Mar. 2023 Yet should would-be candidates continue to avoid CPAC, operatives said that could change the media perception of the event which could result in fewer headlines. Libby Cathey, ABC News, 2 Mar. 2023 On March 21, the would-be thieves had climbed that ladder up to the window, to remove bolts from security glass that covered the window and gain access to a locker room for museum employees. Hazlitt, 1 Mar. 2023 The would-be lucrative contract is the major story of this NFL offseason. Hayes Gardner, Baltimore Sun, 1 Mar. 2023 Recession-proof your life: The tsunami of economic news in 2022 is leading consumers, investors and would-be homeowners alike to ask whether a recession is inevitable. Michelle Singletary, Washington Post, 1 Mar. 2023 In previewing how applications for the money will be rolled out, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo on Monday said would-be recipients must demonstrate their projects would benefit U.S. national security and produce a good return for the public. Joseph Morton, Dallas News, 28 Feb. 2023 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'would-be.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

1647, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of would-be was in 1647

Dictionary Entries Near would-be

Cite this Entry

“Would-be.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/would-be. Accessed 20 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


: desiring, intending, or pretending to be
a would-be poet
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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