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.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024
How to use would-be in a sentence
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.
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? | Jay Michaelson | November 21, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
This Tuesday, a bunch of vampires and would-be superheroes will knock on our doors and ask us to reward them.
Everything showed a rapid flight; even the would-be dinner of the guerrillas was found half cooked.The Courier of the Ozarks | Byron A. Dunn
While a one-step was in full swing some would-be wag suddenly turned off all the lights.Uncanny Tales | Various
He is a stranger to affectation—that dangerous rock to the would-be wit; he is natural, and is witty without trying to be a wit.Friend Mac Donald | Max O'Rell
He flattered himself that by timely suggestion he had stumped at least half a dozen would-be candidates for Mildreds hand.The Fifth String | John Philip Sousa
"This is the blankest, rummiest blank go ever I was in," muttered the would-be iconoclast.The Chequers | James Runciman
British Dictionary definitions for would-be
usually derogatory wanting or professing to be: a would-be politician
intended to be: would-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