- wishing or pretending to be: a would-be wit.
- intended to be: a would-be kindness.
- a person who wishes or pretends to be something: Opera singers and would-bes should practice at least four hours a day.
Origin of would-be
1250–1300; Middle English (adj.)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for would-be
But the current pontiff, for reasons one might fully understand, declined to meet the would-be papal assassin.
The would-be pope killer loves to be in front of the cameras, and the press in Italy is happy to oblige.
Siding with Obama on anything, no matter how sensical, is a risky move for a would-be Republican presidential candidate.The Rand-Rubio Catfight Over Cuba
December 19, 2014
First, there are plenty of would-be gurus out there, especially in India.Is India’s Fallen ‘God-Man’ So Different From a Megachurch Pastor?
November 21, 2014
This Tuesday, a bunch of vampires and would-be superheroes will knock on our doors and ask us to reward them.Election Day Is Scarier Than Halloween
P. J. O’Rourke
November 1, 2014
Angelo, the would-be Puritan ruler, was a "false seemer," Malvolio was a "chough."The Man Shakespeare
Then she called me to her by name in a would-be pompous manner.Ranald Bannerman's Boyhood
She was like that chap from Detroit, that would-be perfect all-round man.The Harbor
Again I saw that he was concerned solely with his humiliation as a would-be host.Ruggles of Red Gap
Harry Leon Wilson
"Fighting again," the father said, in a would-be fierce voice.The Adventurer
Cyril M. Kornbluth
- usually derogatory wanting or professing to bea would-be politician
- intended to bewould-be generosity
- derogatory a person who wants or professes to be something that he is not
- Indian the person to whom one is is engaged to be married; fiancé or fiancée
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