How to understand the phrase "believe in" in the sentence "We believe in investing in scientific research."?

I find the example sentence under the specification of the word `scientific' from Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.

Here is the quote (just partly copied):


1 [no comparative] about or relating to science, or using its methods

  • We believe in investing in scientific research.

Interpretations under believe in:

believe in somebody/something

2 to think that something is effective or right

believe in doing something

Does it mean "We believe it right to invest in scientific research"? It is somewhat strange for me to believe in a thing rather than a person.

2 Answers 2


believe in (phrasal verb): 2. to have trust in the goodness or value of (something)

A phrasal verb is a combination of a verb with a preposition or adverb. A phrasal verb often has a different meaning from the verb by itself (e.g. "blow up" vs. "blow"). Many English-language dictionaries will have definitions for phrasal verbs, if you do a search, and you should check more than one.

In this case "We believe in ... scientific research" means that the speaker feels that scientific research has value. A similar example:

I still believe in our criminal justice system, even though it may take much longer than we might like to prosecute the guilty.

  • Trust is another topic. The example is "The school believes in letting children learn at their own pace." on the site. What I agree with you on is that the thing has value. However, I may guess, sometimes go wrong, what kind of the value is.
    – Kyno
    Dec 10, 2018 at 9:14
  • @Kyno I'm not sure I understand your objection, or even if it is an objection. "Trust" is another English word with many shades of meaning. It is completely appropriate in this context. If you are mostly using translation dictionaries to learn English vocabulary, you may be missing much of the nuance.
    – Andrew
    Dec 10, 2018 at 14:38
  • Sorry to have said "Trust is another topic" unclearly. "believe in" have three meanings in Longman, to be sure that someone or something exists, to think that something is effective or right, and to trust someone and be confident that they will be successful. What I want to know more is the second one, which I couldn't find a word corresponding to in my mother language.
    – Kyno
    Dec 11, 2018 at 3:23
  • @Kyno Again, "trust" has many shades of meaning. "To trust that something is effective or right' means "to think (with some conviction) that something is effective or right"
    – Andrew
    Dec 11, 2018 at 3:59

To "believe in" often means "to support," as in "I believe in you," or "I don't believe in drinking alcohol."

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