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.
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
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.
Recent Examples on the Web
The slander charge was handed down after Knox wrongfully accused Perugia bar owner Patrick Lumumba of committing the crime, though he was released two weeks later after someone came forward with an alibi for him, according to The Guardian.—Kimberlee Speakman, Peoplemag, 14 Oct. 2023 When Solorio’s attorney’s argued that the 19-year-old had an alibi backed by his girlfriend and sister, prosecutors and detectives dismissed the notion, arguing the two women would be inclined to lie to keep Solorio out of jail.—Salvador Hernandez, Los Angeles Times, 10 Nov. 2023 But Mike Warren had that alibi, so authorities were looking for someone else.—Peter Van Sant, CBS News, 28 Oct. 2023 Although Cure had an alibi and no physical evidence connected him to the scene, he was soon charged in the crime.—Praveena Somasundaram, Washington Post, 18 Oct. 2023 The medical examiner characterized Amber’s injuries as a clear case of child abuse that occurred over the course of several days and found the girl most likely died of a fatal blow to the head during a time period that Boyer, according to her alibi, wasn’t home.—Allie Weintraub, ABC News, 2 Aug. 2023 An alibi defense means there is evidence that Kohberger was somewhere other than the crime scene when the murders were committed.—Anthony Kuipers, Anchorage Daily News, 4 Aug. 2023 The prosecution’s motions are connected to (1) the alibi, (2) protecting the disclosure of information of people involved in the genetic genealogy investigation, (3) issues on the timeline of the trial and Kohberger’s right to a speedy trial and (4) a request to set deadlines on pretrial issues.—Jeffrey Kopp, CNN, 18 Aug. 2023 The suspect also did not provide the names and address of witnesses who can support his alibi defense.—Anthony Kuipers, Anchorage Daily News, 4 Aug. 2023
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, sandiegouniontribune.com, 15 Apr. 2018 In 1992, Bill Clinton felt compelled to alibi his youthful encounter with marijuana.—Mark Z. Barabak, latimes.com, 24 Oct. 2017 See More
These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'alibi.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.
borrowed from Latin alibī "in another place, elsewhere," from alius "other" + -bī, locative suffix (as also in ibi, ibī "in that place, there," ubi, ubī "where?"), going back to Indo-European *-dhe (also in Oscan puf "where?," Umbrian pufe, Old Church Slavic kŭde, Sanskrit kúha, all going back to *kwu-dhe) + a particle *-i — more at else
: the plea made by a person accused of a crime of having been at another place when the crime occurred
: an excuse intended to avoid blame
2 of 2verb
: to make an excuse for
: to offer an excuse
tried to alibi for showing up late
from Latin alibi "elsewhere"
: 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
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.