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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 self-betrayal
Historical Examples
  • Before the generosity of this self-betrayal I bowed my head.

    One of My Sons Anna Katharine Green
  • The greater plays are studies of treachery and self-betrayal.

    William Shakespeare John Masefield
  • She knew how near to self-betrayal she had gone, but in her eagerness she was reckless of the danger.

    The Wild Olive Basil King
  • Her self-betrayal his simple nature did not at once discern.

    The Wave Algernon Blackwood
  • His comrades had bitterly upbraided him with his self-betrayal, that indeed threatened the safety of all.

    The Ordeal Charles Egbert Craddock
  • This time there was not the slightest hint of self-betrayal from the other.

    Star Hunter Andre Alice Norton
  • As you can imagine, the attempt to lure me into self-betrayal was completely fruitless.

  • It was wonderfully kept, but was once upon the verge of self-betrayal.

    Three Ghost Stories Charles Dickens
  • But now, what of the self-betrayal into which he had just surprised her?

    The Missourian Eugene P. (Eugene Percy) Lyle
  • But his excitement was by no means due solely to the fear of self-betrayal.

    Atlantis Gerhart Hauptmann
British Dictionary definitions for self-betrayal


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 self-betrayal



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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