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verb (used with object)
  1. to deliver or expose to an enemy by treachery or disloyalty: Benedict Arnold betrayed his country.
  2. to be unfaithful in guarding, maintaining, or fulfilling: to betray a trust.
  3. to disappoint the hopes or expectations of; be disloyal to: to betray one's friends.
  4. to reveal or disclose in violation of confidence: to betray a secret.
  5. to reveal unconsciously (something one would preferably conceal): Her nervousness betrays her insecurity.
  6. to show or exhibit; reveal; disclose: an unfeeling remark that betrays his lack of concern.
  7. to deceive, misguide, or corrupt: a young lawyer betrayed by political ambitions into irreparable folly.
  8. to seduce and desert.
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Origin of betray

1200–50; Middle English bitraien, equivalent to bi- be- + traien < Old French trair < Latin trādere to betray. See traitor
Related formsbe·tray·al, nounbe·tray·er, nounpre·be·tray, verb (used with object)pre·be·tray·al, nounself-be·tray·al, nounself-be·tray·ing, adjectiveun·be·trayed, adjectiveun·be·tray·ing, adjective


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4, 6. hide, conceal.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Examples from the Web for betray

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • He resolved to pretend to be dumb, and he charged Terence not to betray him.

  • His answer gave me a little start, but I did not betray myself.

    The Underdog

    F. Hopkinson Smith

  • Nay, that foot has no fellow in the wilderness; it will betray her.

    The Last of the Mohicans

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • If Heman felt any surprise at her knowledge of his purpose, he did not betray it.

    Meadow Grass

    Alice Brown

  • Have I not confided to thee, and dost thou not desert me—nay, perhaps, betray?

    Calderon The Courtier

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton

British Dictionary definitions for betray


verb (tr)
  1. to aid an enemy of (one's nation, friend, etc); be a traitor toto betray one's country
  2. to hand over or expose (one's nation, friend, etc) treacherously to an enemy
  3. to disclose (a secret, confidence, etc) treacherously
  4. to break (a promise) or be disloyal to (a person's trust)
  5. to disappoint the expectations of; failhis tired legs betrayed him
  6. to show signs of; indicateif one taps china, the sound betrays any faults
  7. to reveal unintentionallyhis grin betrayed his satisfaction
  8. betray oneself to reveal one's true character, intentions, etc
  9. to lead astray; deceive
  10. euphemistic to seduce and then forsake (a woman)
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Derived Formsbetrayal, nounbetrayer, 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

Word Origin and History for betray


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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper