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noun al·i·bi \ˈa-lə-ˌbī\

Simple Definition of alibi

  • : a claim that you cannot be guilty of a crime because you were somewhere else when the crime was committed; also : evidence which shows that such a claim is true

  • : an excuse for not being somewhere or doing something

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of alibi

  1. 1 :  the plea of having been at the time of the commission of an act elsewhere than at the place of commission; also :  the fact or state of having been elsewhere at the time

  2. 2 :  an excuse usually intended to avert blame or punishment (as for failure or negligence)

Examples of alibi in a sentence

  1. Nobody could confirm his alibi that he was at the movies.

  2. Her doctor is her alibi: she was in surgery at the time of the murder.

  3. She made up an alibi for why she missed the meeting.

Did You Know?

In Latin, alibi was an adverb that meant “elsewhere.” When the word was first adopted into English in the 18th century, it was still limited to its adverbial use. A person on trial might be said to prove himself alibi when the crime was committed. By the end of that century, however, alibi had acquired the status of a noun and was used in legal contexts for “the plea of having been elsewhere at the time of the crime.” The meaning of the word was then extended to apply to the fact or state of having been elsewhere when a crime was committed.

Origin and Etymology of alibi

Latin, elsewhere, from alius

First Known Use: 1743

Synonym Discussion of alibi

apology, apologia, excuse, plea, pretext, alibi mean matter offered in explanation or defense. apology usually applies to an expression of regret for a mistake or wrong with implied admission of guilt or fault and with or without reference to mitigating or extenuating circumstances <said by way of apology that he would have met them if he could>. apologia implies not admission of guilt or regret but a desire to make clear the grounds for some course, belief, or position <his speech was an apologia for his foreign policy>. excuse implies an intent to avoid or remove blame or censure <used illness as an excuse for missing the meeting>. plea stresses argument or appeal for understanding or sympathy or mercy <her usual plea that she was nearsighted>. pretext suggests subterfuge and the offering of false reasons or motives in excuse or explanation <used any pretext to get out of work>. alibi implies a desire to shift blame or evade punishment and imputes mere plausibility to the explanation <his alibi failed to stand scrutiny>.



verb al·i·bi

Definition of alibi



  1. transitive verb
  2. :  to exonerate by an alibi :  furnish an excuse for

  3. intransitive verb
  4. :  to offer an excuse


First Known Use of alibi


ALIBI Defined for Kids


noun al·i·bi \ˈa-lə-ˌbī\

Definition of alibi for Students



  1. 1 :  the explanation given by a person accused of a crime that he or she was somewhere else when the crime was committed

  2. 2 :  an excuse intended to avoid blame <She made up an alibi for why she was late.>

Law Dictionary


noun al·i·bi

Legal Definition of alibi

  1. :  a defense of having been somewhere other than at the scene of a crime at the time the crime was committed; also :  the fact or state of having been elsewhere at the time a crime was committed

Additional Notes on alibi

Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 12.1 requires the defendant to provide notice upon written demand of an intention to offer a defense of alibi. The prosecution must provide to the defendant the names of witnesses that will be used to rebut it.

Origin and Etymology of alibi

Latin, elsewhere, from alius other

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