Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
December 26th, 2015
Episode 405 of 797 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 26, 2015 is: belie \bih-LYE\ verb 1 a : to give a false impression of b : to present an appearance not in agreement with 2 : to show (something) to be false or wrong 3 : to run counter to : contradict 4 : disguise Examples: Abigail, a seventy-eight-year-old grandmother, moves with an agility that belies her age. "Often described as 'a little jewel,' the 1911 chapel has a simple exterior thatbeliesits interior." — Deb Holland, The Meade County (South Dakota) Times-Tribune, 7 Oct. 2015 Did you know? "What is a lie?" asked Lord Byron in Don Juan. He then answered himself: "'Tis but the truth in masquerade...." The history of belie illustrates a certain connection between lying and disguising. In its earliest known use, around 590 C.E., belie meant "to deceive by lying." By the 1200s, it was being used to mean "to tell lies about," using a sense similar to that of the modern word slander. Over time its meaning softened, shifting from an act of outright lying to one of mere misrepresentation, and by the early 1600s, the word was being used in the sense "to disguise or conceal." Nowadays, belie suggests giving an impression at variance with the facts rather than telling an intentional untruth.