believe

verb

be·​lieve bə-ˈlēv How to pronounce believe (audio)
believed; believing

transitive verb

1
a
: to consider to be true or honest
believe the reports
you wouldn't believe how long it took
b
: to accept the word or evidence of
I believe you
couldn't believe my ears
2
: to hold as an opinion : suppose
I believe it will rain soon

intransitive verb

1
a
: to accept something as true, genuine, or real
ideals we believe in
believes in ghosts
b
: to have a firm or wholehearted religious conviction or persuasion : to regard the existence of God as a fact
Do you believe?
usually used with in
believe in the Scriptures
2
: to have a firm conviction as to the goodness, efficacy, or ability of something
believe in exercise
3
: to hold an opinion : think
I believe so
believer noun
Phrases
not believe
: to be astounded at
I couldn't believe my luck

Example Sentences

I have watched the many ways that teachers demonstrate pleasure in what students have said or done. I used to believe that teachers needed to present a stoic face for fear of losing control—as if smiling caused bad behavior. Nancy Mack, English Journal, September 2008 Scientists kept a close eye on Mount Saint Helens. The volcano in Washington State spewed steam and ash throughout the month, leading experts to believe that it could erupt at any time. Time For Kids, 17 Dec. 2004 They parted as casually as any friends who believe they will meet in a few days. But each knew the other was in deadly peril of his life. Esther Forbes, Johnny Tremain, 1943 The scientists believed the reports. Many people seem to believe that theory, but I find it hard to believe. You shouldn't believe everything you read. He says he'll help us, but I don't believe what he says. They were tricked into believing that he was a doctor. He says he'll help us, but I don't believe him. She went to church because her family expected it, but she didn't really believe. See More
Recent Examples on the Web With no real details about the financial aspect of the deal, there’s little to believe LIV earned any great rights fees the way most sports leagues are accustomed to doing. Tara Sullivan, BostonGlobe.com, 21 Jan. 2023 Kerry seemed to erroneously believe Gualinga was from Brazil. Kate Aronoff, The New Republic, 20 Jan. 2023 Some of my research shows that having women in these political roles has encouraged other women to become more engaged in the political system and to believe that politics is more open to everyone. Farida Jalalzai, Fortune, 20 Jan. 2023 Doctors then diagnosed the now 57-year-old with Lyme disease stemming from a 2004 tick bite, leading them to believe that the disease damaged nerves in her vocal cords. Rania Aniftos, Billboard, 20 Jan. 2023 Chandi set out on the ambitious mission to inspire future generations to believe in themselves, push themselves and promote empowerment through the great outdoors. Janine Henni, Peoplemag, 20 Jan. 2023 The picturesque desert dunes might produce the most breathtaking imagery, but the traveling bivouac is something Dakar devotees need to see to believe. Michael Van Runkle, Robb Report, 19 Jan. 2023 Experience has conditioned him to believe that all resistance will eventually be overcome. Matt Bai, Washington Post, 19 Jan. 2023 But, officials said, their assessment now is that Russia needs to believe that Crimea is at risk, in part to strengthen Ukraine’s position in any future negotiations. Julian E. Barnes, New York Times, 18 Jan. 2023 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

Middle English beleven, from Old English belēfan, from be- + lȳfan, lēfan to allow, believe; akin to Old High German gilouben to believe, Old English lēof dear — more at love

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1b

Time Traveler
The first known use of believe was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near believe

Cite this Entry

“Believe.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/believe. Accessed 2 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition

believe

verb
be·​lieve bə-ˈlēv How to pronounce believe (audio)
believed; believing
1
: to have a firm religious faith
2
: to have faith or confidence in the existence or worth of
believe in ghosts
believe in regular exercise
3
: to accept as true
believe the reports
4
: to accept the word or evidence of
they believed us
I could hardly believe my ears
5
: to hold as an opinion : think
believe it will rain
believable
-ˈlē-və-bəl
adjective
believably
-blē
adverb
believer noun

Legal Definition

believe

transitive verb
be·​lieve
believed; believing
: to consider to be true or honest

More from Merriam-Webster on believe

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