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

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


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.


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 men and women of our community are allied with law enforcement. Eric Heisig,, "Ohio U.S. attorney to white nationalists: You have a ‘right to be on the losing end of this argument’," 30 Aug. 2019 Republicans, long allied with the National Rifle Association, have resisted stricter laws on firearm and ammunition sales. Lisa Mascaro,, "Trump-McConnell 2020? Senate leader glues self to president," 10 Aug. 2019 Powerful labor unions closely allied with Mr. Fernández’s Peronists are opposed to the trade deal. Jeffrey T. Lewis, WSJ, "EU, Mercosur Deal Faces Hurdles on Two Continents," 30 June 2019 The Boston organizers are openly allied with alt-right groups like the Proud Boys. Melissa Gira Grant, The New Republic, "When the State Enforces “Straight Pride”," 4 Sep. 2019 Greenland and Denmark have been very closely allied with the U.S. for a long time. Los Angeles Times, "Q&A: Trump wants to buy Greenland. How much is it worth anyway?," 23 Aug. 2019 Forceful Saudi foreign policy under Salman has also included isolating rival Qatar, allying closely with Egypt’s military ruler Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and increasing its already huge advanced weapons purchases. David Mednicoff, The Conversation, "Why increasing Arab-Israeli closeness matters," 29 Aug. 2019 All that is what still makes Katharine Hamnett relevant today—the fact that her designs stand the test of time, allied to the upgrade of the new, clean, processes which are embedded in their manufacture. Vogue, "The Women Designers Who Changed The Way We Dress," 14 Aug. 2019 Further Reading Three hours after allying with 8chan, THQ Nordic goes into full apology mode Prince acknowledged that 8chan will be able to find another service provider to take over from Cloudflare. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Cloudflare has had enough, cutting off 8chan," 5 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The moves delighted traditional agents, producers and theater owners, who saw an ally where Netflix was a disrupter., "Amazon Studios, once the anti-Netflix, appears to be turning into it," 16 Sep. 2019 Farmer, a member of the Senate since 2016, is former present of the trial lawyers’ association and well known as an ally of the organization. Anthony Man,, "Broward lawmaker in line to lead Senate Democrats is in relationship with lobbyist paid to influence Florida Legislature," 9 Sep. 2019 Tencent is a powerful ally, as WeChat blocks links from rivals, including Alibaba. Wired, "China Has an Ecommerce Giant You’ve Never Heard Of," 9 Sep. 2019 One exception allowed for now is Vietnam’s current drilling projects with Russian oil firms, including Rosneft and Gazprom, with Beijing disinclined to confront Moscow, an otherwise increasingly useful ally on the geopolitical stage. Steve Mollman, Quartz, "The US says China is blocking $2.5 trillion in South China Sea oil and gas," 25 Aug. 2019 The project was temporarily scuttled when allies of the anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic and conspiracy-theory minded Know-Nothing Party took over the board of the Washington National Monument Society in 1853 and drove it into bankruptcy. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "The Washington Monument Will Reopen in September," 16 Aug. 2019 Mina may find an ally in state Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando. David Harris,, "Orange sheriff wants pawn shops, gun stores to lock up guns at night. Some business owners are hesitant.," 12 Aug. 2019 President Donald Trump, an ally of gun rights advocates, has also voiced support for certain gun measures. The Christian Science Monitor, "The green grass grows all around," 9 Aug. 2019 Now, Wang, David Elbaz, an astrophysicist at the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission in Saclay, and an international team have found a way to spot the missing galaxies by turning their enemy—dust—into an ally. Adrian Cho, Science | AAAS, "Galaxy hunters spot hidden giants in the early universe," 7 Aug. 2019

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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Statistics for ally

Last Updated

9 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ally

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

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More Definitions for ally



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



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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More from Merriam-Webster on ally

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ally

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ally

Spanish Central: Translation of ally

Nglish: Translation of ally for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ally for Arabic Speakers

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