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tr.v. be·trayed, be·tray·ing, be·trays
a. To give aid or information to an enemy of; commit treason against: betray one's country.
b. To inform upon or deliver into the hands of an enemy in violation of a trust or allegiance: "City investigators betrayed him to his bosses as a whistle-blower" (Selwyn Raab).
2. To be false or disloyal to: betrayed a cause; betray one's spouse.
3. To divulge in a breach of confidence: betray a secret.
4. To make known unintentionally: Her hollow laugh betrayed her contempt for the idea.
5. To lead astray; deceive: "She felt somewhat like a woman who in a moment of passion is betrayed into an act of infidelity" (Kate Chopin).

[Middle English bitraien : bi-, be- + traien, to betray (from Old French trair, from Latin trādere, to hand over; see tradition).]

be·tray′al n.
be·tray′er n.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.



fifth columnist A traitor, quisling; a subversive or an enemy sympathizer. This term’s origin dates from the Spanish Civil War (1936-39) when the Loyalist government in Madrid had been infiltrated by many Franco sympathizers. In a radio broadcast to the Loyalists, General Gonzalo Queipo de Llano y Sierro, a Fascist revolutionary, stated, “We have four columns on the battlefield against you, and a fifth column inside your ranks.”

Fifth Column is also the title of a play (1938) by Ernest Hemingway. During World War II, these expressions received widespread use, usually referring to revolutionary sympathizers who had secured positions of influence in matters of security and policy decision. These insurgents spread rumors and practised espionage and sabotage, exploiting the fears of the people and often inciting panic.

Parliament has given us the powers to put down the fifth column activities with a strong hand. (Winston Churchill, Into Battle, 1941)

Judas kiss A sign of betrayal, duplicity, or insincerity. The reference is to the kiss Judas Iscariot gave Jesus in betraying him to the authorities:

And he that betrayed him had given them a token, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he. (Mark 14:44)

The term dates from as early as 1400.

Candour shone from his eyes, as insincere as a Judas kiss. (R. Lewis, Blood Money, 1973)

the most unkindest cut of all See ADVERSITY.

rat To inform or squeal; to desert and turn renegade, to bolt and join the opposition. The noun rat has been an opprobrious epithet since Elizabethan times. During the 18th century it took on, in political slang, the more specific denotation of traitor or turncoat. By the 19th century the corresponding verb usage appeared. It is generally believed that these slang meanings came by way of comparison with the apostate rats of the proverbial sinking ship, though the older more general ‘scoundrel’ meaning would suffice—rodents having long been objects of aversion and loathing to man.

scab A worker who resists union membership; a union member who refuses to strike. This disparaging expression likens the blue collar maverick to a pus-filled lesion. The epithet is often applied to an employee who crosses picket lines or more specifically, to a person who takes over the job of a striker for the duration of the work halt.

sell down the river To abandon or desert; to turn one’s back on another; to delude or take advantage of. This expression originated in the Old South, where uncooperative slaves were often punished by being shipped downstream to the harsh, sweltering plantations of the lower Mississippi. The phrase maintains regular usage today.

I think we are, as a people, a little inclined to sell our state down the river in our thinking. (Daily Ardmoreite[Ardmore, Oklahoma], December, 1949)

stool pigeon or stoolie A person who acts as a decoy; an informer, particularly one associated with the police. This expression is derived from the former practice of fastening a pigeon to a stool to attract other pigeons. Today the phrase usually refers to an informer who is betraying his cohorts.

In New York City he is also called a Stool-pigeon. The “profession” generally speaks of him as a Squealer. (Willard Flynt, World of Graft, 1901)

turncoat One who abandons his convictions or affiliations; an apostate or renegade. This expression purportedly originated with a ploy of Emanuel, an early duke of Savoy, whose strategic territory was precariously situated between France and Italy. According to legend, in order to maintain peace with his powerful neighbors, Emanuel had a reversible coat made which was white on one side and blue on the other. He wore the white side when dealing with the French and the blue side when dealing with the Italians. The duke was subsequently called Emanuel Turncoat, and the epithet attained its now familiar meaning of renegade or tergiversator.

The Tory who voted for those motions would run a great risk of being pointed at as a turncoat by the … Cavaliers. (Thomas Macaulay, History of England, 1855)

Picturesque Expressions: A Thematic Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1980 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.betrayal - an act of deliberate betrayalbetrayal - an act of deliberate betrayal  
knavery, dishonesty - lack of honesty; acts of lying or cheating or stealing
double cross, double-crossing - an act of betrayal; "he gave us the old double cross"; "I could no longer tolerate his impudent double-crossing"
sellout - an act of betrayal
2.betrayal - the quality of aiding an enemy
subversiveness, traitorousness, treason - disloyalty by virtue of subversive behavior
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


2. giving away, telling, revelation, disclosure, blurting out, divulgence She saw his newspaper piece as a betrayal of her confidence.
giving away keeping, guarding, preserving, safeguarding, keeping secret
"If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country" [E.M. Forster Two Cheers for Democracy]
Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002


An act of betraying:
Slang: sellout.
The American Heritage® Roget's Thesaurus. Copyright © 2013, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
خِيانَه، إفْشاءُ السِّر


[bɪˈtreɪəl] N
1. [of person, country] → traición f
a betrayal of trustun abuso de confianza
2. [of secret, plot] → revelación f
3. [of feelings, intentions] → descubrimiento m
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005


[bɪˈtreɪəl] n [ally, country] → trahison f
betrayal of trust → abus m de confiance
a disgraceful betrayal of trust → un honteux abus de confiance
She forgave him for his betrayal of her trust
BUT Elle lui pardonna d'avoir trahi sa confiance.
an act of betrayal → un acte de trahison
Collins English/French Electronic Resource. © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


n (= act)Verrat m (→ of +gen); (= instance)Verrat m (→ of an +dat); (of trust)Enttäuschung f; (of friends)Verrat m (→ of an +dat), → Untreue f(of gegenüber); (of ideals, principles)Verrat m (→ of +gen); the betrayal of Christder Verrat an Christus; a betrayal of trustein Vertrauensbruch m
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007


[bɪˈtre/ɛ7əl] ntradimento
Collins Italian Dictionary 1st Edition © HarperCollins Publishers 1995


(biˈtrei) verb
1. to act disloyally or treacherously towards (especially a person who trusts one). He betrayed his own brother (to the enemy).
2. to give away (a secret etc). Never betray a confidence!
3. to show (signs of). Her pale face betrayed her fear.
beˈtrayal noun
beˈtrayer noun
Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary © 2006-2013 K Dictionaries Ltd.
References in classic literature ?
He was not, it is true, resigned; but this last blow failed to force him into an outward betrayal of any emotion.
MY first few days' experience in my new position satisfied me that Doctor Dulcifer preserved himself from betrayal by a system of surveillance worthy of the very worst days of the Holy Inquisition itself.
But a greater betrayal of friendship was yet to follow.
What, under my endless obsession, I had been impelled to listen for was some betrayal of his not being at rest, and I presently caught one, but not in the form I had expected.
One party, to which Katavasov belonged, saw in the opposite party a scoundrelly betrayal and treachery, while the opposite party saw in them childishness and lack of respect for the authorities.
She nodded, with no betrayal on her face of the myriad secret economies that filled her mind.
It was mainly what we know, including the fact about Will Ladislaw, with some local color and circumstance added: it was what Bulstrode had dreaded the betrayal of--and hoped to have buried forever with the corpse of Raffles--it was that haunting ghost of his earlier life which as he rode past the archway of the Green Dragon he was trusting that Providence had delivered him from.
I could not have borne to lose the smallest portion of her sisterly affection; yet, in that betrayal, I should have set a constraint between us hitherto unknown.
All the force of her nature had been concentrated on the one effort of concealment, and she had shrunk with irresistible dread from every course that could tend towards a betrayal of her miserable secret.
"And believe me, they are reaping the reward of their betrayal of the Bourbon cause.
Never was there a more consummate love-making, with all the base intent of betrayal, than this cavalier seduction of Michael by the elderly, six-quart ship's steward.
His natural irresolution and moral cowardice were exaggerated by a position in which dreaded consequences seemed to press equally on all sides, and his irritation had no sooner provoked him to defy Dunstan and anticipate all possible betrayals, than the miseries he must bring on himself by such a step seemed more unendurable to him than the present evil.