al·​i·​bi | \ ˈa-lə-ˌbī How to pronounce alibi (audio) \

Definition of alibi

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the plea of having been at the time of the commission of an act elsewhere than at the place of commission His alibi was that he was at the movies at the time of the crime. also : the fact or state of having been elsewhere at the time
2 : an excuse usually intended to avert blame or punishment (as for failure or negligence) made up an alibi for why she missed the meeting
3 : someone or something that provides a person with an alibi His wife was his alibi.


alibied; alibiing

Definition of alibi (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to exonerate (someone) by an alibi : to furnish an excuse for … took statements from anyone not alibied.— Joseph Wambaugh

intransitive verb

: to offer an excuse

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Choose the Right Synonym for 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

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.

Examples of alibi in a Sentence


Nobody could confirm his alibi that he was at the movies. Her doctor is her alibi: she was in surgery at the time of the murder. She made up an alibi for why she missed the meeting.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Stinson, 21, at the time, had a solid alibi and denied any knowledge of the murder, but quickly became the lead suspect. Bruce Vielmetti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Man exonerated after 23 years in prison says detectives, dentists framed him with bogus bite-mark evidence," 24 June 2019 But soon his alibi about being home studying began to unravel. Matt Goldfarb, CBS News, "Investigation of airman's brutal murder in Japan uncovers deception, fraud and witchcraft," 19 June 2019 In 2001, a New York subway employee was arrested for the murder of his ex-girlfriend, after his alibi crumpled when police analysed his MetroCard data (paywall). Mary Hui, Quartz, "Why Hong Kong’s protesters were afraid to use their metro cards," 13 June 2019 However, his original alibi is refuted when Harry reveals that Dewey seemed to confess to the crime. Tamara Fuentes, Seventeen, "Who Killed Cassandra on "The Society"?," 13 May 2019 His feelings also provide him with a permanent alibi. New York Times, "Review: ‘Deadpool 2’ Has More Swearing, Slicing and Dicing from Ryan Reynolds," 14 May 2018 Coley had a solid alibi for all but 20 minutes the night of the murders and the crimes would’ve have taken much longer than that to commit. Pam Kragen,, "Unlikely friendship led to Carlsbad man's exoneration after 38 years in prison," 28 Apr. 2018 But investigators with the Federal Defender Office reviewed the case and uncovered previously undisclosed evidence and interviewed witnesses who could confirm Salter's alibi at the time of the shooting. Corey Williams, Fox News, "Charges dismissed in 2003 slaying; man released from prison," 15 Aug. 2018 The court issued a 4-3 ruling Friday that Skakel's trial attorney, Michael Sherman, failed to present evidence of an alibi. Crimesider Staff, CBS News, "Michael Skakel case: New murder trial ordered for Kennedy cousin," 4 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

When faced with having to alibi to their spouses, Fiona and Bob, unbeknown to each other, involve a young couple, William and Mary Featherstone (Benjamin Cole and Noelle Marion). David Coddon,, "'How the Other Half Loves' ingenious and fab at North Coast Rep," 15 Apr. 2018 In 1992, Bill Clinton felt compelled to alibi his youthful encounter with marijuana. Mark Z. Barabak,, "Violence! Sex! Defiance! Trump's over-the-top presidency has changed the rules for prospective candidates," 24 Oct. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'alibi.' 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 alibi


1731, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1909, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for alibi


Latin, elsewhere, from alius other

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Statistics for alibi

Last Updated

28 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for alibi

The first known use of alibi was in 1731

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More Definitions for alibi



English Language Learners 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


al·​i·​bi | \ ˈa-lə-ˌbī How to pronounce alibi (audio) \
plural alibis

Kids Definition of alibi

1 : the explanation given by a person accused of a crime that he or she was somewhere else when the crime was committed
2 : an excuse intended to avoid blame She made up an alibi for why she was late.



Legal Definition of alibi

: 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

Note: 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.

History and Etymology for alibi

Latin, elsewhere, from alius other

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More from Merriam-Webster on alibi

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with alibi

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for alibi

Spanish Central: Translation of alibi

Nglish: Translation of alibi for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of alibi for Arabic Speakers

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characterized by aphorism

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