I. verb — [with obj.] 1. accept 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.
2. accept the statement of (someone) as true • he didn’t believe her.
3. [no obj.] — have religious faith. • there are those on the fringes of the Church who do not really believe.
4. ( believe something of) — feel sure that (someone) is capable of doing something • I wouldn’t have believed it of Lavinia—what an extraordinary woman!
5. [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.
II. phrases 1. believe it or not used to concede that a statement is surprising • believe it or not, I was considered quite bright in those days.
2. believe me (or believe you me) used to emphasize the truth of a statement • believe me, it is well worth the effort.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. would you believe (it)? used to express amazement about something • they’re still arguing, would you believe it?
III. phrasal verbs believe in a. have faith in the truth or existence of • those who believe in God.
b. be of the opinion that (something) is right or acceptable • I don’t believe in censorship of the arts.
c. have confidence in (a person or a course of action) • he had finally begun to believe in her.
– origin late Old English belȳfan, belēfan, alteration of gelēfan, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch geloven and German glauben, also to lief.