Definition of believe in English:

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Pronunciation: /bɪˈliːv/


[with object]
1Accept that (something) is true, especially without proof: the superintendent believed Lancaster’s story [with clause]: some 23 per cent believe that smoking keeps down weight
More example sentences
  • How many of you, as kids, read these insane stories and believed them to be true?
  • Twelve months ago, the Worralls were looking forward to Christmas, believing Rose's condition was in remission.
  • The trust believes these measures will prevent similar problems in the future.
be convinced by, trust, have confidence in, consider honest, consider truthful
regard as true, accept as true, accept, be convinced by, give credence to, credit, give credit to, trust, put confidence in, count on, rely on, depend on
informal swallow, {swallow something hook, line, and sinker}, fall for, go for, buy, take as gospel
1.1Accept the statement of (someone) as true: he didn’t believe her
More example sentences
  • Many local people believed him when he spoke of the right or wrong siting of houses or tombs.
  • Although the City didn't quite think that was true, they were inclined to believe him.
  • One of those who manage to escape sees the bodies of 3,000 people but no one believes him.
1.2 [no object] Have religious faith: there are those on the fringes of the Church who do not really believe
More example sentences
  • Was it lifted up whole and intact to heaven, as the Catholic faith believes?
  • Obviously, he does not see the point of religion as the believer does, since for the believer seeing the point of religion is believing.
  • God asks us to overcome what we cannot see, take a leap of faith and believe and trust in him.
1.3 (believe something of) Feel sure that (someone) is capable of doing something: I wouldn’t have believed it of Lavinia—what an extraordinary woman!
More example sentences
  • “It looks pretty bad for him, Mrs. Donovan,” said Diana, “but even so I can’t believe it of him either—I won’t believe it.”
  • I couldn't believe it of him because he had behaved so normally at home.
2 [with clause] Hold (something) as an opinion; think: I believe we’ve already met (believe someone/thing to be) four men were believed to be trapped
More example sentences
  • I have a hard time believing that my opinion would change regardless of who did the work though.
  • He believes that moving to Rochdale Infirmary will add to the already difficult parking problems.
  • It is believed that with one man already convicted of the bombing, there are no grounds to reopen the inquiries.
think, be of the opinion that, think it likely that, have an idea that, imagine, feel, have a feeling, hold, maintain, suspect, suppose, assume, presume, conjecture, surmise, postulate that, theorize that, conclude, come to the conclusion that, deduce;
understand, be given to understand, take it, gather, fancy, guess, dare say;
North American  figure
informal reckon
archaic ween



believe it or not

Used to concede that a statement is surprising: believe it or not, I was considered quite bright in those days
More example sentences
  • But, believe it or not, I was actually in Italy to soak up the art and the history.
  • The chef looks after us so a bit of junk food one day of the year we're actually looking forward to believe it or not.
  • They took it four times a day, and they actually applied it to their nose, believe it or not.

believe me (or believe you me)

Used to emphasize the truth of a statement: believe me, it is well worth the effort
More example sentences
  • Since more people think I'm quite chatty here and seem open to talking about EVERYTHING, they expect that I am quite the tell-all girl, but believe you me, there's so much I don't feel okay writing about.
  • Young Higgins will go where the money is, believe you me.
  • They won't have a transcript, but don't you worry, believe you me, if there is a discrepancy in which either side promised something in opening and they didn't deliver, they will hear about it in closing from the other side.

be unable to (or be hardly able to) believe one's luck

Be amazed by how lucky one is on a particular occasion: Clarke could hardly believe his luck as he put the ball into the empty net
More example sentences
  • They stare up at me with sunken eyes, filled with shock, as if they had all died in a single instant and were unable to believe what they had seen.
  • He was unable to believe that this lone creature could possibly destroy two of the most powerful Clans on the planet and everything else.
  • He hated to be judgmental, but he was unable to believe that someone like them were capable of doing a noble thing such as keeping a vow.

be unable to believe one's eyes (or ears)

Be amazed by what one sees or hears: I couldn’t believe my eyes when I opened the box
More example sentences
  • I get my first mile split and I can't believe my ears....7:15....what?? That can't be right! My legs don't feel like they are moving that fast!
  • They are true masters, sometimes i can't believe my ears, the whole band is unbelievable, very unique and really good music.
  • Wow, I can't believe my eyes.... this is truly amazing.... and just so incredulous!

don't you believe it!

Used to express disbelief in the truth of a statement: he says he is left of centre, but don’t you believe it
More example sentences
  • Well don't you believe it! We love race reports, each of which is unique and special so keep 'em coming!!
  • The campaign reinforces the message that if someone calls claiming “‘I’m from the Water Board’ - don’t you believe it, there’s no such thing!”

would you believe (it) ?

Used to express amazement about something: they’re still arguing, would you believe it?
More example sentences
  • There's a certain amount of a strangely fragrant and singing and dancing and calling out substance about, even (would you believe it?) in comments boxes.
  • He had been a bit fortunate because almost as soon as he was thrown out he was handed a lifeline by (would you believe?)
  • The magazine of the Aurora tower in Sydney (would you believe?) approached me to write something for them.

Phrasal verbs

believe in

1Have faith in the truth or existence of: those who believe in God
More example sentences
  • The idea is to make the association evolve as a meeting place of those who have come from all parts of the country, speaking different languages and believing in different faiths and political ideologies.
  • I also have trouble sometimes believing in faith where there is no reality.
  • I've never met a living soul who really believes in salvation by faith alone.
be convinced of the existence of, be sure of the existence of, be persuaded of the existence of, believe in the existence of
2Be of the opinion that (something) is right or acceptable: I don’t believe in censorship of the arts
More example sentences
  • They may exercise voice because they believe in the value of their opinion, instead of believing in the value of having the person with the proper rank hear their opinion.
  • Sri Lanka, being a nation with a fairly long record of independence, have always believed in the freedom of opinion in many fields.
  • You accept it because you believe in free speech and open debate.
3Have confidence in (a person or a course of action): he had finally begun to believe in her
More example sentences
  • It's about forming young people and giving them the confidence to believe in themselves.
  • She's given me the confidence to believe in myself, and that anything's possible if you try.
  • We seem to have found the cure, now it's just a question of going onto the course and believing in it.
have faith in, pin one's faith on, trust in, have every confidence in, cling to, set store by, value, swear by, be convinced by, be persuaded by;
subscribe to, approve of, back, support, advocate, champion
informal rate


Late Old English belȳfan, belēfan, alteration of gelēfan, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch geloven and German glauben, also to lief.

Words that rhyme with believe

achieve, breve, cleave, conceive, deceive, eve, greave, grieve, heave, interleave, interweave, khedive, leave, misconceive, naive, Neve, peeve, perceive, reave, receive, reive, relieve, reprieve, retrieve, sheave, sleeve, steeve, Steve, Tananarive, Tel Aviv, thieve, underachieve, upheave, weave, we've, Yves

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: be|lieve

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