Trust vs. Mistrust: Useful Difference between Mistrust vs. Trust

Last Updated on December 9, 2023

In the English language, the fact that two words have the same root doesn’t necessarily mean that they have similar meanings. A prefix can change the meaning completely, often making it the opposite and thus creating confusion for those who are learning and speaking English. Take, for example, trust and mistrust. Three letters added at the beginning of the second word almost make these two antonyms.

Trust vs. Mistrust

Key Takeaways

  • Trust can be a noun meaning “belief in the reliability and the ability of a person to do something” or a verb that means “to believe that someone is capable of doing something”.
  • On the other hand, Mistrust can be a noun that means “lack of trust” or a verb that means “to have no confidence in”.

Trust vs. MistrustPin

Definitions: Trust vs. Mistrust

What Does “Trust” Mean?

Trust is your confidence in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something. When you trust, you believe in the consistency of someone’s character and the authenticity of their actions. Examples of trust include:

  • Believing a friend will keep a secret
  • Relying on a bridge to hold your weight

What Does “Mistrust” Mean?

Mistrust, on the other hand, is characterized by a lack of confidence or belief in the reliability or integrity of a person or thing. Mistrust arises from experiences or beliefs that lead to doubt or caution. Scenarios of mistrust might involve:

  • Questioning the honesty of someone selling a used car
  • Feeling wary about entering an elevator that often malfunctions

When to Use Trust vs. Mistrust

Trusting someone is a good thing. For example, you need to trust your significant other in order for your relationship to be loving and healthy. If someone believes in your abilities to do something, you should try not to violate their trust and, indeed, do what they expect you to do. You might have also heard the phrase “trust issues”. It means that, for one reason or the other, someone struggles to believe what other people tell and promise them.

Mistrust is almost the opposite. For instance, if a woman has been treated badly by two of her previous boyfriends, she is likely to develop mistrust towards all men in general. If you have never been abroad, you might have a mistrust towards everything foreign. Finally, if the workers notice that the management of their company is lying to them, they will start mistrusting it.

Using trust instead of mistrust or vice versa in a sentence might lead to a lot of confusion, so it’s very important to remember the difference between two words. Think that the prefix mis- usually adds a negative meaning to the word, e.g. misunderstanding, misadventure. If you remember this, you will have no problem remembering that mistrust means “lack of trust” and using this word correctly.

Trust vs. Mistrust Examples

Examples of “Trust” in Sentences

  • You can trust me to keep your secret safe.
  • Building trust with clients is essential for a successful business.
  • The charity was set up as a trust to support education for underprivileged children.
  • In any relationship, trust is more valuable than gold.
  • She breached his trust by sharing confidential information.
  • To ensure her children’s future, she set up a trust fund.
  • Trust in the team’s strategy led them to victory.

Examples of “Mistrust” in Sentences

  • The scandal sowed mistrust among the company’s investors.
  • There’s a deep mistrust of online security after the recent data breaches.
  • His secretive behavior has caused mistrust within the team.
  • Overcoming mistrust in a relationship can be a difficult and lengthy process.
  • Historical conflicts have led to mistrust between the neighboring countries.
  • The politician’s inconsistent statements have fostered mistrust among the electorate.
  • To repair the damage done by the misinformation, we must address the community’s mistrust head-on.

Trust or Mistrust: Practice and Exercises

Practice Exercise: Trust vs. Mistrust Characteristics

Instructions: Read each characteristic below and decide whether it aligns more with trust or mistrust. Write your answer next to each characteristic.

  1. Feeling confident that others will provide support and care when needed.
  2. Doubting the intentions of others and expecting to be let down.
  3. Believing that the world is a safe and predictable place.
  4. Worrying that people will not follow through on their promises.
  5. Being willing to rely on others without fear.
  6. Reluctance to form close relationships due to fear of betrayal.
  7. Expecting that others will be there for you in times of need.
  8. Having a general suspicion about the motives of people you meet.
  9. Feeling secure enough to take reasonable risks.
  10. Frequently questioning the loyalty or trustworthiness of friends.


  1. Trust
  2. Mistrust
  3. Trust
  4. Mistrust
  5. Trust
  6. Mistrust
  7. Trust
  8. Mistrust
  9. Trust
  10. Mistrust

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the trust versus mistrust stage?
It’s the first stage in Erik Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development. This stage occurs from birth to approximately 18 months of age. During this period, you’ll find infants learn to trust or mistrust their caregivers based on whether their basic needs are met.

Why is establishing trust important in early childhood?
Building trust is crucial because it lays the foundation for a child’s emotional and social development. When your needs are consistently met, you develop a sense of security and confidence, vital for forming healthy relationships later in life.

Can mistrust in infancy be corrected later on?
While early experiences are important, it’s possible to address and mitigate mistrust later in life. With supportive relationships and positive experiences, you can develop trust even if early childhood was challenging.

How does trust influence later behavior?
When you have a sense of trust, you’re more likely to be open to new experiences and form secure relationships. Trust shapes your ability to interact with the world confidently and to view it as a safe place.

What role do caregivers play in developing trust?
Caregivers are instrumental in this stage. By providing consistent care and meeting your physical and emotional needs, they help you develop a sense of trust. Their responsiveness to your needs encourages a secure and optimistic outlook on life.

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