Definition of traitor in English:



  • A person who betrays someone or something, such as a friend, cause, or principle.

    ‘he was a traitor to his own class’
    • ‘Nothing untoward happened to the traitor until he upped sticks and defected to Moscow.’
    • ‘It is an age-old tactic of fascists to target trade unionists and label them a fifth column or traitors.’
    • ‘The traitor will receive the information in the most discreet way possible.’
    • ‘Her family are adamantly opposed to her relationship and friends reject her as a traitor.’
    • ‘The talk was of victories and defeats, of holy war and martyrs, of betrayal and the punishments for traitors to the cause.’
    • ‘It dismisses an entire culture in the eastern part of our nation as troublemakers and traitors.’
    • ‘From time to time, every spy agency falls victim to a mole, a traitor, or a double agent.’
    • ‘Even my brothers have sent me a number of cruel e-mail accusing me of betraying the family and being a traitor.’
    • ‘A traitor is a person who betrays someone or something, such as a friend, cause or principle.’
    • ‘My friend thinks we are traitors and sulks and snaps at us if we don't react to situations the same way she does.’
    • ‘It split the union - he was accused of being a traitor and his followers scabs.’
    • ‘Insurrectionists, traitors and fifth columnists were a feature of our political landscape.’
    • ‘They are traitors, and we delight in calling them scabs as they drive into work.’
    • ‘Used to traitors bargaining information for food or freedom, they were caught off balance.’
    • ‘Japanese spies and traitors gathered there and caused a lot of trouble.’
    • ‘They condoned actions such as assassinations, bombs without warnings and the summary execution of informers and traitors.’
    • ‘The liars, the traitors, the thugs, and the outlaws cannot be handed the destiny of a nation like India.’
    • ‘Either way, his fate was sealed: he was executed a few weeks later, his body left hanging from the gallows as a grim warning of the fate of traitors.’
    • ‘It also claimed that only a handful of traitors had collaborated with the Nazis.’
    • ‘This is not a democratic sport of the people, which has been betrayed by some money-grubbing traitors.’
    betrayer, back-stabber, double-crosser, double-dealer, renegade, judas, quisling, fifth columnist, viper
    View synonyms


  • turn traitor

    • Betray a group or person.

      ‘she'd had the gall to deny she had turned traitor’
      • ‘You would trust a man that just had a ship shot out from under him, and turned traitor to his own service to help run your ship?’
      • ‘Shocked by this news, each of us began to deny that we would ever turn traitor.’
      • ‘Another paper details the inner workings of a normally benign bug that has evolved drug-resistance and turns traitor when its human host is weakened by disease.’
      • ‘Others have turned traitor, switching allegiances from synthesisers to guitars.’
      • ‘It's the punishment for turning traitor and helping the opponents during a war.’
      • ‘He was afraid of the power I had, so he turned traitor.’
      • ‘She's already turned traitor on her own people once, and as convincing as her story is I'm not going to rule out the possibility she'll do it again.’
      • ‘Friends turn traitor and fellow countrymen become the enemy in a war-torn world where the old rules are worthless.’
      • ‘One of the key prosecution witnesses at his trial was a trusted comrade who had turned traitor.’
      • ‘But there were other, subtler ways of turning traitor, and he felt her coming absence, looming two afternoons a week, as proof of that.’
      break one's promise to, be disloyal to, be unfaithful to, break faith with, play someone false, fail, let down
      View synonyms


Middle English: from Old French traitour, from Latin traditor, from tradere ‘hand over’.