Belay vs belie

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Belay and belie are two words that are often confused. We will examine the definitions of the words belay and belie, where they came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

To belay means to attach a rope to an object in order to secure it or to secure a person with a rope. The term belay is most often used in mountain climbing or rappelling. The word belay is also used in maritime language as a command to stop or desist. Belay is used as a noun or a transitive verb, which is a verb that takes an object. Related words are belays, belayed, belaying. The word belay is derived from an Old English word, belecgan, which means to cover, surround or accuse.

Belie means to give a false impression, to show that something is false, to contradict or to fail an expectation. Belie is also a transitive verb, related words are belies, belied, belying. Note the retention of the letter y in belying. The word belie is derived from the Old English word beleogan, which means to be fooled by lies.


The crew was “forced to belay his body with ropes to the bottom of the steep section” of the trail, before bringing him to a rescue location, attorneys wrote. (The Brattleboro Reformer)

But Congress wants to belay that order, adding language to pending versions of the defense budget that would appropriate $82 million to procure 100 Tomahawks in the next fiscal year. (The Arizona Daily Star)

Those neat, peaceful cemeteries serve a purpose: their order belies the savagery and filth of battlefield death so that the living can focus on those “fallen” now at “rest”. (The Guardian)

However, the FBI statistics seem to belie a number of reports by the ADL and others that suggested a spike in anti-Semitism in the United States last year. (The Jewish Telegraphic Agency)