al·​ly | \ ə-ˈlī How to pronounce ally (audio) , ˈa-ˌlī How to pronounce ally (audio) \
allied; allying

Definition of ally

 (Entry 1 of 3)

transitive verb

: to unite or form a connection or relation between : associate He allied himself with a wealthy family by marriage.

intransitive verb

: to form or enter into an alliance two factions allying with each other


al·​ly | \ ˈa-ˌlī How to pronounce ally (audio) , ə-ˈlī How to pronounce ally (audio) \
plural allies

Definition of ally (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : a sovereign or state associated with another by treaty or league America and its allies
2 : one that is associated with another as a helper : a person or group that provides assistance and support in an ongoing effort, activity, or struggle a political ally She has proven to be a valuable ally in the fight for better working conditions. often now used specifically of a person who is not a member of a marginalized or mistreated group but who expresses or gives support to that group The storyline on "Glee" captures something larger that we are seeing with a new generation of allies (allies are people who support LGBT rights but aren't LGBT themselves).— David M. Hall
3 : a plant or animal linked to another by genetic or taxonomic proximity ferns and their allies


adverb suffix

Definition of -ally (Entry 3 of 3)

: -ly entry 2 terrifically in adverbs formed from adjectives in -ic with no alternative form in -ical

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Examples of ally in a Sentence

Verb There may be occasions when America can ally with some of those states, as we did during the Gulf War. — Ramesh Ponnuru, National Review, 15 Oct. 2001 Teresa's right to teach, however, would not be vindicated until our time when the late Paul VI named her a doctor of the church. In her own lifetime Teresa had the good sense to ally herself with outstanding supporters such as the observant Franciscan Peter Alcantara and the famous Dominican theologian, Domenico Báñez. — Lawrence S. Cunningham, Commonweal, 28 Jan. 2000 The singers ally themselves with a gifted songwriter, and everyone gets some major-label exposure for what just happens to be a splendid album. — Michael Azerrad, Rolling Stone, 13-27 July 1995 Generally, however, psychoanalysts do ally themselves with two positions, the first of which is that dreams are meaningful. — Wynn Schwartz, Dreamtime and Dreamwork, 1990 She's allied herself with the moderates on this issue. countries allying themselves with the EU He'll even admit that he's hoping to ally himself to a wealthy family by marriage. They've allied with their former enemies. Noun When the Soviets pulled out in early 1989, the ensuing power vacuum turned former allies into enemies. The Muslim fighters known as mujahideen, who were unified in their struggle against the Soviets, disbanded and fought one another for control of Kabul in a devastating civil war. — Jiffer Bourguignon, Saveur, March 2008 Our allies would need us more than we would need them, so we could count on them to rally to our side in a crunch. — Samantha Power, New York Times Book Review, 29 July 2007 These groups have learned from experience that the media are their most valuable ally. Publicity increases tips that fuel an investigation, and many communities have launched special-alert systems in the past few years to get news of an abduction on the air within minutes. — Andrew Murr, Newsweek, 29 July 2002 fought with the Allies in World War II She's counting on her allies in the state legislature.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The Kankara kidnapping is also raising fears about the evolution of Boko Haram, which has expanded from its base in northeast Nigeria to ally itself with bandit groups in the northwest. Joe Parkinson, WSJ, "Kidnapped Nigerian Schoolboys Say Ransom Was Paid, Tell of Beatings," 23 Dec. 2020 The Creek Nation adopted chattel slavery as a strategic effort, Roberts said, to ally with white settlers by assimilating to their culture. NBC News, "The Black Native American descendants fighting for the right to belong," 20 Nov. 2020 Businesses should not celebrate government gridlock but should instead ally with government in solving social problems and rebuilding the economy, writes Just Capital chief strategy officer Alison Omens in a piece for Fortune. David Meyer, Fortune, "Nobody really knows which coronavirus strategy is the right one," 16 Nov. 2020 Unlike Cohen, who chose to ally himself with Trump, Mary Trump was a blood relation. Andrea Bernstein, The New York Review of Books, "Pattern of Deception: From Trump Family Business to Grifter in Chief," 5 Oct. 2020 But Lea did not publicly ally the krewe with the anti-police brutality movement, as many members wished. Doug Maccash | Staff Writer,, "Krewe of Nyx sued by float builder, accused of breaking parade contract worth hundreds of thousands," 16 Sep. 2020 Oracle is one of the few Silicon Valley firms willing to ally with Mr. Trump. Caroline Linton, CBS News, "Microsoft says its bid to buy TikTok rejected," 14 Sep. 2020 The Nyx captain apologized for the post, but did not publicly ally the krewe with the Black Lives Matter movement or step down, as some members called for. Doug Maccash,, "Former Krewe of Nyx members will donate $16,000 to schools that decided to boycott parade," 8 Sep. 2020 Mike McKenna, a former Trump administration legislative aide and a fossil fuel lobbyist, countered the Chamber is unwise to ally with Democrats when the party’s left wing is ascendant. Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner, "Chamber bets it can help centrist Democrats hold the line on climate," 4 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Her strongest ally is her father, Reyaz Ahmed Shaikh. Radhika Iyengar, The Christian Science Monitor, "For Indian teen who launched village library, it’s about more than books," 8 Jan. 2021 Canadians are deeply disturbed and saddened by the attack on democracy in the United States, our closest ally and neighbour. Abigail Rosenthal, Chron, "World leaders react to Wednesday's pro-Trump mob at the U.S. Capitol," 7 Jan. 2021 And now the Republican governor faces 2021 without his stalwart ally President Donald Trump in the White House and Democrat Joe Biden taking over. Steven Lemongello,, "DeSantis became a ‘mini-Trump’ as COVID-19 struck Florida in 2020, critics say," 30 Dec. 2020 In return for securing for its ally a marginally smaller humiliation, Moscow gained a present and a presence. Ivan Sascha Sheehan, National Review, "Russia’s New Territory," 23 Dec. 2020 In fact, the biggest winner so far may be his Eritrean ally, Mr. Isaias. New York Times, "Refugees Come Under Fire as Old Foes Fight in Concert in Ethiopia," 18 Dec. 2020 Also, that Mullens knows his sitting football coach is his most valuable ally in the department. John Canzano, oregonlive, "Canzano: Oregon Ducks AD Rob Mullens doubles down with Mario Cristobal," 17 Dec. 2020 The Trump administration imposed sanctions on its NATO ally Turkey over its purchase of a Russian air defense system, in a striking move against a longtime partner that sets the stage for further confrontation. Los Angeles Times, "Today’s Headlines: A historic vaccine rollout," 15 Dec. 2020 Adding to the angry fallout among Iraqis was the involvement of Blackwater, a security firm founded by Erik Prince, a former Navy SEAL who is a Trump ally and brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Eric Tucker And Ellen Knickmeyer,, "Trump pardons in killings of Iraqi civilians by Blackwater employees stir international outcry," 23 Dec. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ally.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of ally


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense


1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for ally

Verb and Noun

Middle English allien, from Anglo-French alier, from Latin alligare to bind to, from ad- + ligare to bind — more at ligature

Adverb suffix

-al entry 1 + -ly

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Time Traveler for ally

Time Traveler

The first known use of ally was in the 14th century

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Statistics for ally

Last Updated

29 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Ally.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for ally


How to pronounce -ally (audio) How to pronounce -ally (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of ally

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to join (yourself) with another person, group, etc., in order to get or give support


How to pronounce -ally (audio) How to pronounce -ally (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of ally (Entry 2 of 2)

: a country that supports and helps another country in a war
: the nations that fought together against Germany in World War I or World War II
: a person or group that gives help to another person or group


al·​ly | \ ˈa-ˌlī How to pronounce ally (audio) , ə-ˈlī \
plural allies

Kids Definition of ally

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a person, group, or nation associated or united with another in a common purpose


al·​ly | \ ə-ˈlī How to pronounce ally (audio) , ˈa-ˌlī \
allied; allying

Kids Definition of ally (Entry 2 of 2)

: to form a connection between : join in an alliance He allied himself with supporters of the new law.

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