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Alternative forms[edit]


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.]
    • Shakespeare
      Thou dost belie him, Percy, thou dost belie him.
  2. (transitive) To give a false representation of, to misrepresent. [from 17th c.]
    • Shakespeare
      Should I do so, I should belie my thoughts.
    • 1621, Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy, Oxford: Printed by Iohn Lichfield and Iames Short, for Henry Cripps, OCLC 216894069:
      , II.2.6.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.]
    • Dryden
      Their trembling hearts belie their boastful tongues.
    Her obvious nervousness belied what she said.
  4. (transitive, perhaps nonstandard) To be shown false by contradicting (something) that is true; to conceal the contradictory or ironic presence of (something).
    • 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.
    His calm demeanor belied his inner sense of guilt.
  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 978-0-521-41586-6, 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.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Dryden to this entry?)
  7. (transitive, obsolete) To fill with lies.
    • Shakespeare
      The breath of slander doth belie all corners of the world.