Definition of traitor in US English:



  • A person who betrays a friend, country, principle, etc.

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

    • Betray a group or person.

      ‘to think of a man like you turning traitor to his class’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He was afraid of the power I had, so he turned traitor.’
      • ‘Friends turn traitor and fellow countrymen become the enemy in a war-torn world where the old rules are worthless.’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘It's the punishment for turning traitor and helping the opponents during a war.’
      • ‘Others have turned traitor, switching allegiances from synthesisers to guitars.’
      • ‘One of the key prosecution witnesses at his trial was a trusted comrade who had turned traitor.’
      • ‘Shocked by this news, each of us began to deny that we would ever turn 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      break one's promise to, be disloyal to, be unfaithful to, break faith with, play someone false, fail, let down
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Middle English: from Old French traitour, from Latin traditor, from tradere ‘hand over’.