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al·​i·​bi ˈa-lə-ˌbī How to pronounce alibi (audio)
: 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
: an excuse usually intended to avert blame or punishment (as for failure or negligence)
made up an alibi for why she missed the meeting
: someone or something that provides a person with an alibi
His wife was his alibi.


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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

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.

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

Example Sentences

Noun 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
In search of a scapegoat, Joe gets Phoebe to vent about her friends and settles on Connie (Dario Coates), who has no alibi and is up to his eyeballs in booze and drugs. Sara Netzley,, 9 Mar. 2023 Afterward, Murdaugh drove to his mother’s home in Almeda and made a series of calls and texts in what Waters said was an attempt to manufacture an alibi. Eric Levenson, CNN, 1 Mar. 2023 But in the political sphere, uncertainty has been harnessed as an alibi for denial and inaction. Keith Kloor, Discover Magazine, 20 May 2011 An alternate suspect was not mentioned to the jury, and evidence of Ciria's alibi was not given on trial despite two available alibi witnesses. Kiara Alfonseca, ABC News, 19 Apr. 2022 But prosecutor Creighton Waters argued in opening statements that Paul recorded a video at the dog kennels at 8:44 p.m. that captured Alex and Maggie's voices, undermining his alibi. Fox News, 31 Jan. 2023 Vincent is constantly having affairs that Mathieu, a convenient alibi, is always there to cover up. Elsa Keslassy, Variety, 6 Jan. 2023 With the plan laid out, creating a fake alibi for Marta during the time of death, Harlan slits his own throat to make his death look like a suicide. Stacey Grant, Seventeen, 22 Dec. 2022 Investigators allege that Mawhinney, Fotis Dulos’ friend and former lawyer, helped him by providing an alibi for him at the time of his wife’s disappearance. Taylor Hartz, Hartford Courant, 15 Dec. 2022
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,, 15 Apr. 2018 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,, 15 Apr. 2018 In 1992, Bill Clinton felt compelled to alibi his youthful encounter with marijuana. Mark Z. Barabak,, 24 Oct. 2017 See More

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.

Word History



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


derivative of alibi entry 1

First Known Use


1731, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1909, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of alibi was in 1731

Cite this Entry

“Alibi.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
al·​i·​bi ˈal-ə-ˌbī How to pronounce alibi (audio)
plural alibis
: 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 2 verb
alibied; alibiing
: to make an excuse for
: to offer an excuse
tried to alibi for showing up late


from Latin alibi "elsewhere"

Legal Definition


: 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.



Latin, elsewhere, from alius other

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