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Knowing vs. Believing: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on November 27, 2023
Knowing involves having certainty or factual evidence, while believing is accepting something as true without proof.

Key Differences

Knowing refers to the state of being aware of something with certainty, often through direct experience or learning. It implies factual, objective understanding. Believing, on the other hand, is an acceptance that something exists or is true, often without complete evidence or proof.
Knowing is often based on empirical evidence or firsthand experience. It's concrete and verifiable. In contrast, believing is more subjective, relying on faith, trust, or conviction, without needing empirical evidence.
Knowing is definitive; it doesn't change unless new evidence or information is presented. Believing can be more fluid, influenced by personal feelings, culture, or societal norms, and may exist even in the absence of concrete knowledge.
Knowing demands proof and often results from observation, study, or scientific inquiry. Believing is more personal and can stem from cultural, spiritual, or personal convictions, independent of empirical verification.
Knowing can lead to a deeper understanding and is often used in academic or scientific contexts. Believing, while powerful, is more associated with personal, spiritual, or cultural contexts and can exist without the need for factual backing.

Comparison Chart


Factual evidence
Faith or trust



Dependence on Evidence

Low or none

Change with New Information

Less likely

Common Contexts

Scientific, academic
Personal, spiritual

Knowing and Believing Definitions


Awareness or understanding of something.
She had a knowing smile, as if aware of the secret.


Accepting something as true or real.
He kept believing in his dream, despite the odds.


Showing or suggesting knowledge.
His knowing glance revealed he understood the situation well.


Feeling sure about the truth of something.
They were believing every word of the story.


Recognizing or identifying.
She had a knowing way of recognizing people's true intentions.


Having faith in the truth or existence of something.
She kept believing in magic, even as an adult.


Possessing knowledge, information, or understanding.
His knowing response to the question showed his expertise.


Holding a conviction or opinion.
He was believing that hard work always pays off.


Being aware of something through observation or experience.
After years in the field, he had a deep knowing of the local wildlife.


Trusting in someone or something.
Believing in her friends, she took the leap of faith.


Possessing knowledge, information, or understanding
Very knowing about transportation costs.


To accept (something) as true or real
Do you believe his version of what happened?.


Showing clever awareness and resourcefulness; shrewd and worldly
"Even so knowing a young ruffian as William Chaloner would have had no preparation for the shock of London" (Thomas Levenson).


To consider (someone) to be truthful or accurate in what they are saying
I believe you when you say that your neighbor is angry.


Suggestive of secret or private knowledge
A knowing glance.


Can believing exist without evidence?

Yes, beliefs can be held without empirical evidence, often based on faith or conviction.

How do knowing and believing differ in terms of certainty?

Knowing implies certainty based on evidence, while believing can exist even in uncertainty.

Are knowing and believing mutually exclusive?

Not always; one can know something and also believe in it.

What does knowing mean?

It's the state of being aware or informed about something with certainty.

Can beliefs influence what we think we know?

Yes, personal beliefs can sometimes influence or bias our perception of knowledge.

Can beliefs change over time?

Yes, beliefs can evolve with new experiences or information.

What does believing mean?

Believing is accepting something as true or real, often based on faith rather than proof.

Is knowing always based on facts?

Yes, knowing generally involves factual information or direct experience.

Can someone know something without believing it?

Yes, it's possible to know facts without personally believing or accepting them.

Is knowing more reliable than believing?

Knowing is often seen as more reliable because it is based on evidence.

How does religion relate to knowing and believing?

Religion often involves beliefs that may not be based on empirical knowing.

Can one believe in something they know is untrue?

It's possible, as beliefs can sometimes be based on desire or hope rather than truth.

Can knowing be subjective?

While knowing is generally objective, subjective interpretations can occur.

How does culture affect knowing and believing?

Cultural backgrounds can shape both what we know and what we believe in.

Is empirical evidence necessary for knowing?

Generally, yes, knowing typically relies on empirical evidence or direct experience.

Can knowing lead to believing?

Yes, acquiring knowledge can lead to forming new beliefs.

How does education impact knowing and believing?

Education can expand knowledge and also influence beliefs.

Are knowing and believing processed differently in the brain?

Yes, knowing (cognitive processing) and believing (often emotional) are processed differently.

Is believing always a choice?

Not always; some beliefs are ingrained or culturally imparted.

How do personal experiences affect knowing and believing?

Personal experiences can shape both our knowledge and beliefs.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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