be·​lief bə-ˈlēf How to pronounce belief (audio)
: a state or habit of mind in which trust or confidence is placed in some person or thing
her belief in God
a belief in democracy
I bought the table in the belief that it was an antique.
contrary to popular belief
: something that is accepted, considered to be true, or held as an opinion : something believed
an individual's religious or political beliefs
especially : a tenet or body of tenets held by a group
the beliefs of the Catholic Church
: conviction of the truth of some statement or the reality of some being or phenomenon especially when based on examination of evidence
belief in the validity of scientific statements
Choose the Right Synonym for belief

belief, faith, credence, credit mean assent to the truth of something offered for acceptance.

belief may or may not imply certitude in the believer.

my belief that I had caught all the errors

faith almost always implies certitude even where there is no evidence or proof.

an unshakable faith in God

credence suggests intellectual assent without implying anything about grounds for assent.

a theory now given credence by scientists

credit may imply assent on grounds other than direct proof.

gave full credit to the statement of a reputable witness

synonyms see in addition opinion

Example Sentences

There is growing belief that these policies will not succeed. He gets angry if anyone challenges his religious beliefs. We challenged his beliefs about religion.
Recent Examples on the Web The belief among fans, media, and NBA insiders that the Sixers could win a title this season was blunted, in large part, by the string of second-round exits. Dan Gelston,, 1 June 2023 Those beliefs have caused medical providers today to rate Black patients’ pain lower, and recommend less relief. Kat Stafford, Detroit Free Press, 31 May 2023 As a greater portion of the international audience returns, and audiences get back into the habit of going to the theater (with concerns about COVID-19 safety now largely gone), there’s belief that the industry will be able to make a full rebound next season. Caitlin Huston, The Hollywood Reporter, 31 May 2023 Theravada Buddhist beliefs and practices are more than monastic lineages and meditation techniques. Brooke Schedneck, The Conversation, 31 May 2023 Scott Olson / Getty Images Recovery mode indicates a belief that no more survivors would be found. Maggie Vespa, NBC News, 30 May 2023 The 911 call and opening statements marked the beginning of the trial for Robert Bowers, 50, who has pleaded not guilty to 63 charges, including obstruction of free exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death and hate crimes resulting in death. Eric Levenson, CNN, 30 May 2023 In Kentucky, for example, the legislature passed a law in March that would allow teachers to share their religious beliefs in school. Linda K. Wertheimer, The New Republic, 30 May 2023 Bowers has pleaded not guilty to 63 charges including 11 counts of hate crimes resulting in death and 11 counts of obstruction of free exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death. Charisma Madarang, Rolling Stone, 30 May 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'belief.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English beleave, probably alteration of Old English gelēafa, from ge-, associative prefix + lēafa; akin to Old English lȳfan — more at believe

First Known Use

12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of belief was in the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near belief

Cite this Entry

“Belief.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


be·​lief bə-ˈlēf How to pronounce belief (audio)
: a feeling sure that someone or something exists or is true or trustworthy
a belief in Santa Claus
a belief in democracy
: something that one thinks is true
political beliefs

Legal Definition


: a degree of conviction of the truth of something especially based on a consideration or examination of the evidence compare knowledge, suspicion

More from Merriam-Webster on belief

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