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would-be

[woo d-bee]
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adjective
  1. wishing or pretending to be: a would-be wit.
  2. intended to be: a would-be kindness.
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noun
  1. a person who wishes or pretends to be something: Opera singers and would-bes should practice at least four hours a day.
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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

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Angelo, the would-be Puritan ruler, was a "false seemer," Malvolio was a "chough."

  • Then she called me to her by name in a would-be pompous manner.

  • She was like that chap from Detroit, that would-be perfect all-round man.

    The Harbor

    Ernest Poole

  • 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


British Dictionary definitions for would-be

would-be

adjective (prenominal)
  1. usually derogatory wanting or professing to bea would-be politician
  2. intended to bewould-be generosity
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noun
  1. derogatory a person who wants or professes to be something that he is not
  2. Indian the person to whom one is is engaged to be married; fiancé or fiancée
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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