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Alternative forms[edit]


Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English belyen, beliggen, from Old English beliċġan, biliċġan (to lie around, surround, hedge in, encompass), from Proto-West Germanic *biliggjan, from Proto-Germanic *biligjaną (to lie around). Equivalent to be- (around, by) +‎ lie (to be positioned).


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-West Germanic *bileugan (to belie). Equivalent to be- (about) +‎ lie (to deceive). Compare Dutch beliegen (to lie about, tell lies), German belügen (to lie to someone).


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

  1. (transitive, archaic) To tell lies about. [from 13th c.]
    Synonyms: slander, calumniate
  2. (transitive) To give a false representation of. [from 17th c.]
    Synonym: misrepresent
    • 1595 December 9 (first known performance), [William Shakespeare], The Tragedie of King Richard the Second. [] (First Quarto), London: [] Valentine Simmes for Androw Wise, [], published 1597, →OCLC, [Act II, scene ii]:
      Should I do ſo I ſhould bely my thoughts, / Comfort's in heauen, and we are on the earth []
    • c. 1596 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Life and Death of King Iohn”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act III, scene iv], page 12, column 1:
      Pand. Lady, you vtter madneſſe, and not ſorrow.
      Con. Thou art [not] holy to belye me ſo,
      I am not mad: This haire I teare is mine
    • 1638, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], The Anatomy of Melancholy. [], 5th edition, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Printed [by Robert Young, Miles Flesher, and Leonard Lichfield and William Turner] for Henry Cripps, →OCLC, partition II, section 2, member 6, subsection iv, page 198:
      He found it by experience, and made good uſe of it in his owne perſon, if Plutarch bely him not [].
    • 2013 April 3, Patrick Heenan, The Southeast Asia Handbook[1], Taylor & Francis, →ISBN, page 132:
      Cambodia's apparent relative insignificance belied its geopolitical importance.
    • 2020 November 18, Paul Bigland, “New infrastructure and new rolling stock”, in Rail, page 49:
      Opposite, the Loram site contains a real ragbag of yellow, blue or rust-streaked kit whose appearance belies their importance in keeping the railways running.
  3. (transitive) To contradict, to show (something) to be false. [from 17th c.]
    Synonyms: contradict, give lie to, give the lie to
    Her obvious nervousness belied what she said.
    • 1681, John Dryden, The Spanish Fryar: Or, the Double Discovery. [], London: [] Richard Tonson and Jacob Tonson, [], →OCLC, Act III, page 43:
      Their trembling Hearts bely their boaſting Tongues.
    • 2001, Arun Kaul, “Kesar: The cultural geography of Kashmir”, in The Human Landscape[2], 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, rare) To call a liar; to accuse of falsehood. [from 17th c.]
  5. (transitive, rare) To fill with lies; to lie to.
    • 1611 April (first recorded performance), William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Cymbeline”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act III, scene iv], page 382, column 2:
      No, ’tis Slander, / Whoſe edge is ſharper then the Sword, whoſe tongue / Out-venomes all the Wormes of Nyle, whoſe breath / Rides on the poſting windes, / and doth belye All corners of the World.
    • 2002 May 1, Bethesda Softworks, The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, →OCLC, Microsoft Windows, scene: Ashlander Informant:
      Three belied you, three betrayed you! One you betrayed was three times true! Lord Voryn Dagoth, Dagoth Ur, steadfast liegeman, faithful friend, bids you come and climb Red Mountain!
  6. (transitive, perhaps nonstandard) To conceal the contradictory or ironic presence of (something).
    His calm demeanor belied his inner sense of guilt.
    • 2013 August 31, Elizabeth Koh, “Fighting Pest, Farmers Find Strange Ally: A Drought”, in New York Times[3]:
      The rosy outlook belies a struggle to achieve statewide eradication that has persisted since the insect first crossed the border from Mexico around 1892.
    • 2019, Li Huang, James Lambert, “Another Arrow for the Quiver: A New Methodology for Multilingual Researchers”, in Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, →DOI, page 8:
      At NIE the virtually monolingual linguistic landscape basically belies a quite different multilingual reality.
  7. (transitive, perhaps nonstandard) To show, evince or demonstrate (something) to be present, particularly something deemed contradictory or ironic.
    • 1993, Carol A. Mossman, Politics and Narratives of Birth: Gynocolonization from Rousseau to Zola[4], 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 3, Jeanne Marie Laskas, “Inside the Federal Bureau Of Way Too Many Guns”, in GQ Online[5]:
      [] a low, flat, boring building that belies its past as an IRS facility []
  8. (obsolete) To mimic; to counterfeit.
Derived terms[edit]