[woo d-bee]


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.

Nearby words

  1. wouk,
  2. wouk, herman,
  3. would,
  4. would rather,
  5. would that,
  6. wouldn't,
  7. wouldn't dream of,
  8. wouldst,
  9. woulfe bottle,
  10. wound

Origin of would-be

1250–1300; Middle English (adj.)

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for would-be

British Dictionary definitions for would-be


adjective (prenominal)

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