I've seen some movies in which a king tells someone that he betrayed him.

But when a man betrays his wife, the wife doesn't say "You betrayed me".
She says "You cheated on me".

Why? What's the difference between "cheating on someone" and "betraying someone"?

5 Answers 5


There are no hard and fast rules in these cases. Both words can be used by either party and be entirely correct. Betrayed is a stronger statement of deception than cheating and a deceived wife can well say she was betrayed. A king who was swindled at cards could quite rightly say he was cheated rather than betrayed.


Both words refer to dishonest acts, perhaps even the same act, but portray the act in different light. To betray means to violate loyalty. To cheat means to gain an advantage by dishonesty and guile.

If a king tells his minister "You have betrayed me." he means that the minister has committed a gross violation of his duty to his king. If however he says "You have cheated me." he means that the minister has tricked him to gain some advantage, perhaps in a personal matter such as the sale of a horse.

Adultery is both. It is a betrayal because it is a violation of the principle of loyalty to one mate. It is cheating because of the stealth and deception with which it is usually accomplished. Both expressions can be and are used, though the second may be more idiomatic at the moment.


I am not a native speaker so be cautious. I think betrayal have a more personal meaning (That's why it is stronger as stated by tom). Cheating is more objective and neutral; you cheat when you break some rule or convention, even if it was expected. But that doesn't apply for betrayal, if it was expected then it wasn't a betrayal.


To "cheat on someone" is a specific idiom in English. It means to be unfaithful, usually sexually, to a marriage or committed dating or romantic partner. It does not refer to cheating at cards, or cheating on one's taxes.

There was a pop song recently in which the singer complained that her ex-partner took up with soemoen else very quickly after they has split, and concludes that they new pair had been at least discussing getting together before the previous relationship ended. It includes the lines:

It took you two weeks
to go out and date her
so you didn't cheat
but you're still a traitor.

On general "cheat" means to violate rules, often for a financial advantage. It is frequently used for violating the rules of a game, or breaking a contract to gain a financial advantage.

Betray means "to prove unfaithful to, to violate an oath or promise". A spy is said to betray his or her native country. It implied a very serious promise and a very serious violation of that promise. One who betrays is a traitor.


betryal is some thing about life. the stab is in back and deep.... cheating is dishonest intention and swindling of funds. it is not as sharp or deep as betrayal. in a betrayal.... victims may some times die

  • 3
    This is dramatic and philosophical, but if you don't provide references, or dictionary citations, it may seem like your own opinion. Material that can be challenged and removed. Welcome to the site BTW!
    – M.A.R.
    Commented May 18, 2017 at 17:55

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