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[bih-leef] /bɪˈlif/
something believed; an opinion or conviction:
a belief that the earth is flat.
confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof:
a statement unworthy of belief.
confidence; faith; trust:
a child's belief in his parents.
a religious tenet or tenets; religious creed or faith:
the Christian belief.
Origin of belief
1125-75; earlier bile(e)ve (noun use of v.); replacing Middle English bileave, equivalent to bi- be- + leave; compare Old English gelēafa (cognate with Dutch geloof, German Glaube; akin to Gothic galaubeins)
Related forms
prebelief, noun
superbelief, noun
1. view, tenet, conclusion, persuasion. 2. assurance. Belief, certainty, conviction refer to acceptance of, or confidence in, an alleged fact or body of facts as true or right without positive knowledge or proof. Belief is such acceptance in general: belief in astrology. Certainty indicates unquestioning belief and positiveness in one's own mind that something is true: I know this for a certainty. Conviction is settled, profound, or earnest belief that something is right: a conviction that a decision is just. 4. doctrine, dogma. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for beliefs
  • The inability to agree on the principles that underlie our beliefs is at the root of our political discord.
  • If a non-believer has no beliefs there's nothing forbidding him to do the immoral or unkind.
  • Failure was not part of their convictions as long as they followed their doctrinal beliefs.
  • Obviously not all church-connected colleges insist on exact subscription to their own particular beliefs.
  • Our choices depend on our beliefs and our choices always have consequences.
  • Imposing one's beliefs on another people or nation at the cost of destroying their culture can hardly be justified.
  • We have only begun to envision a world where mythological beliefs are unnecessary.
  • Deeply held beliefs make it easy to accept the absurd.
  • He carried his beliefs with him into his professional life as a doctor and surgeon.
  • The way forward is, and has always been, to subject all beliefs to scientific inquiry.
British Dictionary definitions for beliefs


a principle, proposition, idea, etc, accepted as true
opinion; conviction
religious faith
trust or confidence, as in a person or a person's abilities, probity, etc
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
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Word Origin and History for beliefs



late 12c., bileave, replacing Old English geleafa "belief, faith," from West Germanic *ga-laubon "to hold dear, esteem, trust" (cf. Old Saxon gilobo, Middle Dutch gelove, Old High German giloubo, German Glaube), from *galaub- "dear, esteemed," from intensive prefix *ga- + *leubh- "to care, desire, like, love" (see love (v.)). The prefix was altered on analogy of the verb believe. The distinction of the final consonant from that of believe developed 15c.

"The be-, which is not a natural prefix of nouns, was prefixed on the analogy of the vb. (where it is naturally an intensive) .... [OED]
Belief used to mean "trust in God," while faith meant "loyalty to a person based on promise or duty" (a sense preserved in keep one's faith, in good (or bad) faith and in common usage of faithful, faithless, which contain no notion of divinity). But faith, as cognate of Latin fides, took on the religious sense beginning in 14c. translations, and belief had by 16c. become limited to "mental acceptance of something as true," from the religious use in the sense of "things held to be true as a matter of religious doctrine" (a sense attested from early 13c.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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