Definition of believe in English:

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Pronunciation: /bəˈlēv/


[with object]
1Accept (something) as true; feel sure of the truth of: the superintendent believed Lancaster’s story [with clause]: Christians believe that Jesus rose from the dead
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, be convinced by, give credence to, credit, trust, put confidence in
informal swallow, buy, go for
1.1Accept the statement of (someone) as true: he didn’t believe her or didn’t want to know
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 faith, especially 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 someone) Feel sure that (someone) is capable of a particular action: I wouldn’t have believed it of Lois—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 or suppose: I believe we’ve already met things were not as bad as the experts believed humu-humu are, I believe, shrimp fritters (believe someone/something 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.
informal reckon, figure
archaic ween



be unable (or hardly able) to believe something

Be amazed by something: I couldn’t believe what was happening 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 (or hardly able) 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!

believe it or not

Used to concede that a proposition or statement is surprising: believe it or not, the speaker was none other than Horace
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 or assertion: believe me, she is a shrewd woman
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.

don't you believe it!

Used to express disbelief in the truth of a statement: he says he is left of center, 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 surprise at something one is relating: 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: I believe in ghosts
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
2Be of the opinion that (something) is right, proper, or desirable: I don’t believe in censorship of the arts he didn’t believe in sex before marriage
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 (great) store by, value, be convinced by, be persuaded by;
subscribe to, approve of
informal swear by


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

Syllabification: be·lieve

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