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From Middle English betrayen, betraien, equivalent to be- +‎ tray (to betray), from Old French traïr (to commit treason, betray), from Latin trādere, present active infinitive of trādō (deliver, give over, verb). In some senses, merged with or influenced by Middle English bewraien, bewreyen (to reveal, divulge), see bewray. Compare also traitor, treason, tradition.


  • IPA(key): /bəˈtɹeɪ/, /bɪˈtɹeɪ/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -eɪ


betray (third-person singular simple present betrays, present participle betraying, simple past and past participle betrayed)

  1. To deliver into the hands of an enemy by treachery or fraud, in violation of trust; to give up treacherously or faithlessly
    an officer betrayed the city
  2. To prove faithless or treacherous to, as to a trust or one who trusts; to be false to; to deceive
    to betray a person or a cause
    Quresh betrayed Sunil to marry Nuzhat.
    My eyes have been betraying me since I turned sixty.
  3. To violate the confidence of, by disclosing a secret, or that which one is bound in honor not to make known.
  4. To disclose or discover, for example something which prudence would conceal; to reveal unintentionally
    • 2012 May 24, Nathan Rabin, “Film: Reviews: Men In Black 3”, in The Onion AV Club[1]:
      Jones’ sad eyes betray a pervasive pain his purposefully spare dialogue only hints at, while the perfectly cast Brolin conveys hints of playfulness and warmth while staying true to the craggy stoicism at the character’s core.
    • 1966, Marc Léopold Benjamin Bloch, French rural history:
      Again, to take a less extreme example, there is no denying that although the dialects of northern France retained their fundamentally Romance character, they betray many Germanic influences in phonetics and vocabulary, [...]
  5. To mislead; to expose to inconvenience not foreseen to lead into error or sin.
  6. To lead astray; to seduce (as under promise of marriage) and then abandon.
  7. To show or to indicate something not obvious at first, or would otherwise be concealed.


  • (to prove faithless or treacherous): sell

Derived termsEdit


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.

Further readingEdit