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[bih-trey] /bɪˈtreɪ/
verb (used with object)
to deliver or expose to an enemy by treachery or disloyalty:
Benedict Arnold betrayed his country.
to be unfaithful in guarding, maintaining, or fulfilling:
to betray a trust.
to disappoint the hopes or expectations of; be disloyal to:
to betray one's friends.
to reveal or disclose in violation of confidence:
to betray a secret.
to reveal unconsciously (something one would preferably conceal):
Her nervousness betrays her insecurity.
to show or exhibit; reveal; disclose:
an unfeeling remark that betrays his lack of concern.
to deceive, misguide, or corrupt:
a young lawyer betrayed by political ambitions into irreparable folly.
to seduce and desert.
Origin of betray
1200-50; Middle English bitraien, equivalent to bi- be- + traien < Old French trair < Latin trādere to betray. See traitor
Related forms
betrayal, noun
betrayer, noun
prebetray, verb (used with object)
prebetrayal, noun
self-betrayal, noun
self-betraying, adjective
unbetrayed, adjective
unbetraying, adjective
4. bare, expose, tell, divulge. 6. display, manifest, expose, uncover.
4, 6. hide, conceal. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for betray
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • You have us in your power, and you can betray us to the Danites, if you choose.

    Frank Merriwell's Bravery Burt L. Standish
  • His answer gave me a little start, but I did not betray myself.

    The Underdog F. Hopkinson Smith
  • Looking eagerly into a book did not betray one who could not read.

    An Outcast F. Colburn Adams
  • Nay, that foot has no fellow in the wilderness; it will betray her.

    The Last of the Mohicans James Fenimore Cooper
  • It rather took my breath away, but I tried not to betray the fact.

    The Prairie Mother Arthur Stringer
British Dictionary definitions for betray


verb (transitive)
to aid an enemy of (one's nation, friend, etc); be a traitor to: to betray one's country
to hand over or expose (one's nation, friend, etc) treacherously to an enemy
to disclose (a secret, confidence, etc) treacherously
to break (a promise) or be disloyal to (a person's trust)
to disappoint the expectations of; fail: his tired legs betrayed him
to show signs of; indicate: if one taps china, the sound betrays any faults
to reveal unintentionally: his grin betrayed his satisfaction
betray oneself, to reveal one's true character, intentions, etc
to lead astray; deceive
(euphemistic) to seduce and then forsake (a woman)
Derived Forms
betrayal, noun
betrayer, noun
Word Origin
C13: from be- + trayen from Old French trair, from Latin trādere
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 betray

late 13c., bitrayen "mislead, deceive, betray," from be- + obsolete Middle English tray, from Old French traine "betrayal, deception, deceit," from trair (Modern French trahir) "betray, deceive," from Latin tradere "hand over," from trans- "across" (see trans-) + dare "to give" (see date (n.1)). Related: Betrayed; betraying.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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