• synonyms


[woo d-bee]
See more synonyms for would-be on Thesaurus.com
  1. wishing or pretending to be: a would-be wit.
  2. intended to be: a would-be kindness.
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  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 wouldbe

Historical Examples

  • July 17: A little upset by the episode of the wouldbe assassin, I decided to go up to London for the day.

    Greener Than You Think

    Ward Moore

  • A big word that Mr. Wouldbe uses where Mr. Is uses the little word live.

    The Verbalist

    Thomas Embly Osmun, (AKA Alfred Ayres)

  • Many criminals are acquitted who wouldbe convicted if the penalty were imprisonment.

    Public Speaking

    Clarence Stratton

British Dictionary definitions for wouldbe


adjective (prenominal)
  1. usually derogatory wanting or professing to bea would-be politician
  2. intended to bewould-be generosity
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  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