1

alibi

noun al·i·bi \ ˈa-lə-ˌbī \
Updated on: 20 Nov 2017

Definition of alibi

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.

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.

Recent Examples of alibi from the Web

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.

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 other

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

2

alibi

verb

Definition of alibi

alibied; alibiing
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

Recent Examples of alibi from the Web

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.

First Known Use of alibi

1909


ALIBI Defined for English Language Learners

alibi

noun

Definition of alibi for English Language Learners

  • : 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


ALIBI Defined for Kids

alibi

noun al·i·bi \ ˈa-lə-ˌbī \

Definition of alibi for Students

plural alibis
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.

Law Dictionary

alibi

noun al·i·bi

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.

Origin and Etymology of alibi

Latin, elsewhere, from alius other



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