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Alternative forms[edit]


  • (UK) IPA(key): /bɪˈlʌɪ/
  • (US) IPA(key): /bɪˈlaɪ/, /bəˈlaɪ/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -aɪ

Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English belyen, beliggen, from Old English belicgan, bilicgan (to lie around, surround, hedge in, encompass); equivalent to be- (around, by) +‎ lie (to be positioned). Cognate with German beliegen.


belie (third-person singular simple present belies, present participle belying, simple past belay, past participle belain)

  1. (transitive, obsolete) To lie around; encompass.
  2. (transitive, obsolete, of an army) To surround; beleaguer.

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English belyen, beleoȝen, from Old English belēogan (to deceive by lying, be mistaken), from Proto-Germanic *bileuganą (to belie); equivalent to be- (about) +‎ lie (to deceive). Cognate with Old Frisian biliaga (to belie), Dutch beliegen (to belie), German belügen (to lie to), Swedish beljuga (to tell lies about).


belie (third-person singular simple present belies, present participle belying, simple past and past participle belied)

  1. (transitive) To tell lies about; to slander. [from 13th c.]
  2. (transitive) To give a false representation of, to misrepresent. [from 17th c.]
    • c. 1595, William Shakespeare, Richard II, Act II Scene ii[2]:
      Should I do so, I should belie my thoughts:
    • 1621, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], The Anatomy of Melancholy, Oxford: Printed by Iohn Lichfield and Iames Short, for Henry Cripps, OCLC 216894069; The Anatomy of Melancholy: [], 2nd corrected and augmented edition, Oxford: Printed by John Lichfield and James Short, for Henry Cripps, 1624, OCLC 54573970, partition II, section 2, member 6, subsection iv:
      He found it by experience, and made good use of it in his own person, if Plutarch belie him not […].
  3. (transitive) To contradict, to show (something) to be false. [from 17th c.]
    Her obvious nervousness belied what she said.
    • Dryden
      Their trembling hearts belie their boastful tongues.
    • 2001, Arun Kaul, Kesar: The cultural geography of Kashmir, in The Human Landscape, page 227:
      Early Chinese Buddhist travellers like O'Kong (AD 759-763) mention the use of kesar in Buddhist Viharas for various rituals, and also in making paint for Buddhist scrolls and thankas. This fact belies the earlier myth that would have us believe that kesar was not known prior to Lalitaditya's reign.
  4. (transitive, perhaps nonstandard) To conceal the contradictory or ironic presence of (something).
    His calm demeanor belied his inner sense of guilt.
    • 2013, Elizabeth Koh, "Fighting Pest, Farmers Find Strange Ally: A Drought," New York Times, August 31, 2013
      The rosy outlook belies a struggle to achieve statewide eradication that has persisted since the insect first crossed the border from Mexico around 1892.
  5. (transitive, perhaps nonstandard) To show, evince, demonstrate: to show (something) to be present, particularly something deemed contradictory or ironic.
    • 1993, Carol A. Mossman, Politics and Narratives of Birth: Gynocolonization from Rousseau to Zola, Cambridge University Press, →ISBN, page 28:
      A host of evidence is adduced by the accused, evidence whose sometimes self-contradictory nature belies a certain desperation.
    • 2016 August 30, Jeanne Marie Laskas, “Inside the Federal Bureau Of Way Too Many Guns”, *GQ* online:
      [] a low, flat, boring building that belies its past as an IRS facility []
  6. (obsolete) To mimic; to counterfeit.
    • Dryden
      Which durst, with horses hoofs that beat the ground,
      And martial brass, belie the thunder's sound.
    • Dryden's Fables.
      The shape of man, and imitated beast
      The walk, the words, the gesture could supply,
      The habit mimick, and the mien belie.
  7. (transitive, obsolete) To fill with lies.
    • c. 1608-10, William Shakespeare, Cymbeline, Act III Scene iv[3]:
      'Tis slander,
      Whose edge is sharper than the sword, whose tongue
      Outvenoms all the worms of Nile, whose breath
      Rides on the posting winds, and doth belie
      All corners of the world.



  • (make unknown information known): reveal
  • (allow information to be familiar): disclose