Trust vs. Mistrust – What’s the Difference?

Trust and mistrust are confusing. The prefix mis- is the only differentiating factor between them. Luckily, that same prefix gives us a clue to their meanings.

These words are opposites of each other, and even though each can be used as more than one part of speech, knowing the difference between them is easy, provided you know what the words mean.

With that in mind, this article will discuss trust and mistrust, including their meanings and how each should be used in sentences.

What is the Difference Between Trust and Mistrust?

In this article, I will compare trust vs. mistrust. I will use each of these words in at least one example sentence, so you can see them in context.

Plus, I will show you a memory tool that you can use to help you choose either mistrust or trust in your own writing.

When to Use Trust

true versus mistrust What does trust mean? Trust has several meanings, but, in this article, I will focus on the context of faith that something is reliable.

In this sense, trust is a noun, but it can also be used as a verb. In its verb sense, it means to believe that something is reliable.

Here are a few examples,

  • Shari knew that Amir was probably lying, but she decided to trust him anyway.
  • “I have placed significant trust in you,” said the CEO. “Prove to me that I am right.”
  • “I do not trust this rope bridge,” said the worried adventurer.
  • If he didn’t, it represents a grave and selfish breach of trust that will cost the president dearly. –New York Post

When to Use Mistrust

Definition of mistrust definition and definition of true definition What does mistrust mean? Mistrust can also be used as a noun or a verb.

As a noun, mistrust means lack of confidence in something.

As a verb, mistrust means to be suspicious of something. It is the opposite of trust in both of these contexts.

Here are a few examples,

  • Colten’s lies had sowed seeds of mistrust among his colleagues in the research department.
  • “I generally mistrust anyone who won’t reveal their sources,” said the writer.
  • “I mistrust my senses; can the island really be this beautiful?” said the starving shipwreck survivor.
  • Perhaps Trump loyalists’ mistrust of the intelligence community will strengthen the coalition of lawmakers seeking substantive statutory surveillance reform. –The Washington Post

Trust vs. Mistrust – Psychosocial Development

Define mistrust and define true Trust vs. mistrust is also a stage of psychosocial development in Erik Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development.

Erik Erikson was a developmental psychologist who lives from 1902 to 1994. His theory of psychosocial development has 8 stages, with trust vs. mistrust being the first.

This stage takes places from birth to one year old. The principle behind it is that as infants, we all depend on our caregivers to provide for us. As these needs are met, we develop a trusting relationship with them. If the needs are not met, we may grow up to be suspicious and mistrustful of these people and people in general.

According to the theory, this first stage determines whether children trust or mistrust others.

Trick to Remember the Difference

These words are opposites, so remembering mistrust vs. trust is easy.

  • If you are referring to confidence in someone or something, use trust.
  • If you are referring to a lack of confidence, use mistrust

This rule holds true for both the noun and verb usages of these words.

Since trust and true are spelled with many of the same letters, and you would be more likely to trust something which has been true in the past, remembering what this word means is a simple task.


Is it trust or mistrust? Trust and mistrust can both be used as either a noun or a verb.

  • Trust refers to confidence in a person, object, or process.
  • Mistrust refers to a lack of confidence.

Trust is spelled with many of the same letters as the word true, so it should be easy to remember what this word means.

If you need a refresher, you can always reread this article to review its guidelines.