[ bih-trey ]
/ bɪˈtreɪ /

verb (used with object)



We know you’ll tackle this quiz totis viribus! See how many words from the week of Oct 12–18, 2020 you get right!
Question 1 of 7
What does “Indigenous” mean?

Origin of betray

1200–50; Middle English bitraien, equivalent to bi-be- + traien<Old French trair<Latin trādere to betray. See traitor

OTHER WORDS FROM betray Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020


What does betrayal mean?

Betrayal is when someone you trust breaks that trust by doing something that hurts you. This can take many forms, such as a soldier working with the enemy, one family member stealing from another, or a friend spreading rumors about another friend.

Betrayal is the noun form of the verb betray, which means to be disloyal or traitorous.

A specific act of disloyalty is a betrayal, as in The businessman never forgave his partner’s betrayal of joining his hated rival’s company. 

Betrayal is also used to describe how you reveal something unconsciously, like how a blush betrays embarrassment.

An act is only considered a betrayal if it violates an existing trust. The word typically implies a serious violation of trust that causes serious harm.

Example: The knights’ betrayal of their king helped the invaders win the war.

Where does betrayal come from?

The word betrayal comes from  the 1540s. It is based on the verb betray, which comes from the Latin trādere meaning “to hand over.” The noun traitor also comes from this verb. The suffix -al is used to form nouns from verbs, like in removal or withdrawal.

Throughout history, betrayals have been considered one of the most vile and cowardly acts that a person could perform. Even today, betrayal of a person’s country is considered one of the worst crimes a person can commit. In fact, United States law specifically recommends that traitors face the highest possible punishment.

In Inferno, part one of the epic poem The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri,  people guilty of betrayal are sent to the lowest, cruelest depths of Hell. According to the poem, Satan himself spends his time torturing history’s biggest traitors.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to betrayal?

  • betray (verb)
  • betrayer (noun)

What are some synonyms for betrayal?

What are some words that share a root or word element with betrayal

What are some words that often get used in discussing betrayal?

How is betrayal used in real life?

Betrayal is used to mean a severe violation of trust.



Try using betrayal!

Which of the following is an antonym (opposite) of betrayal?

A. deceit
B. loyalty
C. cowardliness
D. treason

Example sentences from the Web for betray

British Dictionary definitions for betray

/ (bɪˈtreɪ) /

verb (tr)

Derived forms of betray

betrayal, nounbetrayer, noun

Word Origin for betray

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