believe

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Middle English beleven, bileven, from Old English belīefan (to believe), from Proto-Germanic *bilaubijaną (to believe), equivalent to be- +‎ leave (to allow, permit). Cognate with Scots beleve (to believe). Compare Old English ġelīefan (to be dear to; believe, trust), Old English ġelēafa (belief, faith, confidence, trust), Old English lēof ("dear, valued, beloved, pleasant, agreeable"; > English lief). Related also to North Frisian leauwjen (to believe), West Frisian leauwe (to believe), Dutch geloven (to believe), German glauben (to believe), Gothic 𐌲𐌰𐌻𐌰𐌿𐌱𐌾𐌰𐌽 (galaubjan, to hold dear, valuable, or satisfactory, approve of, believe).

Alternative forms[edit]

Pronunciation[edit]

Verb[edit]

believe (third-person singular simple present believes, present participle believing, simple past and past participle believed)

  1. (transitive) To accept as true, particularly without absolute certainty (i.e., as opposed to knowing)
    If you believe the numbers, you'll agree we need change.
    I believe there are faeries.
    I believe it might rain tomorrow. (Here, the speaker merely accepts the accuracy of the conditional.)
    • 1611, King James Version of the Bible, Luke 1:1:
      Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us...
  2. (transitive) To accept that someone is telling the truth.
    Why did I ever believe you?
  3. (intransitive) To have religious faith; to believe in a greater truth.
    After that night in the church, I believed.

Usage notes[edit]

  • The transitive verb believe and the phrasal verb believe in are similar but can have very different implications.
    • To “believe” someone or something means to accept specific pieces of information as truth: believe the news, believe the lead witness. To “believe a complete stranger” means to accept a stranger's story with little evidence.
    • To “believe in” someone or something means to hold confidence and trust in that person or concept: believe in liberty, believe in God. To “believe in one's fellow man” means to place trust and confidence in mankind.
  • Meanings sometimes overlap. To believe in a religious text would also require affirming the truth of at least the major tenets. To believe a religious text might likewise imply placing one's confidence and trust in it, in addition to accepting its statements as facts.

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

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Statistics[edit]


Dutch[edit]

Pronunciation[edit]

Verb[edit]

believe

  1. singular present subjunctive of believen

Anagrams[edit]