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[bih-trey] /bɪˈtreɪ/
verb (used with object)
to deliver or expose to an enemy by treachery or disloyalty:
Benedict Arnold betrayed his country.
to be unfaithful in guarding, maintaining, or fulfilling:
to betray a trust.
to disappoint the hopes or expectations of; be disloyal to:
to betray one's friends.
to reveal or disclose in violation of confidence:
to betray a secret.
to reveal unconsciously (something one would preferably conceal):
Her nervousness betrays her insecurity.
to show or exhibit; reveal; disclose:
an unfeeling remark that betrays his lack of concern.
to deceive, misguide, or corrupt:
a young lawyer betrayed by political ambitions into irreparable folly.
to seduce and desert.
Origin of betray
1200-50; Middle English bitraien, equivalent to bi- be- + traien < Old French trair < Latin trādere to betray. See traitor
Related forms
betrayal, noun
betrayer, noun
prebetray, verb (used with object)
prebetrayal, noun
self-betrayal, noun
self-betraying, adjective
unbetrayed, adjective
unbetraying, adjective
4. bare, expose, tell, divulge. 6. display, manifest, expose, uncover.
4, 6. hide, conceal. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for betrayer
Historical Examples
  • She died forgiving her betrayer, and sending a message to that effect by me.

    Doom Castle Neil Munro
  • But he only replied that I had been the betrayer in the case, by indulging in various amours.

    Poor Folk Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • How had she withstood his persecution even in her betrayer's presence and made no sign?

    The Secret of the Storm Country Grace Miller White
  • I thought I had only got rid of my betrayer; and now you say I have killed my husband.

    Much Darker Days Andrew Lang (AKA A. Huge Longway)
  • If I live, I shall soon be revenged on that betrayer of her friend.

    The Kath Sarit Sgara Somadeva Bhatta
  • Edith, my husband—no, my betrayer, I ought rather to say—has deserted me!

    The Masked Bridal Mrs. Georgie Sheldon
  • Colonel Brandon had gone to her rescue and to fight a bloodless duel with her betrayer.

  • He had no twin, a disobedient soldier, a liar and betrayer, as it was said he had.'

    The Long Roll Mary Johnston
  • The betrayer is represented here when leaving the house in which is being held the sacred feast on the night of the betrayal.

  • Accordingly, at the hour appointed, the people came, and the betrayer also.

    My Bondage and My Freedom Frederick Douglass
British Dictionary definitions for betrayer


verb (transitive)
to aid an enemy of (one's nation, friend, etc); be a traitor to: to betray one's country
to hand over or expose (one's nation, friend, etc) treacherously to an enemy
to disclose (a secret, confidence, etc) treacherously
to break (a promise) or be disloyal to (a person's trust)
to disappoint the expectations of; fail: his tired legs betrayed him
to show signs of; indicate: if one taps china, the sound betrays any faults
to reveal unintentionally: his grin betrayed his satisfaction
betray oneself, to reveal one's true character, intentions, etc
to lead astray; deceive
(euphemistic) to seduce and then forsake (a woman)
Derived Forms
betrayal, noun
betrayer, noun
Word Origin
C13: from be- + trayen from Old French trair, from Latin trādere
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for betrayer

1520s, agent noun from betray (v.).



late 13c., bitrayen "mislead, deceive, betray," from be- + obsolete Middle English tray, from Old French traine "betrayal, deception, deceit," from trair (Modern French trahir) "betray, deceive," from Latin tradere "hand over," from trans- "across" (see trans-) + dare "to give" (see date (n.1)). Related: Betrayed; betraying.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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