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al·​i·​ment ˈa-lə-mənt How to pronounce aliment (audio)
: food, nutriment
also : sustenance
there was nothing there of conversational aliment Kingsley Amis


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al·​i·​ment ˈa-lə-ˌment How to pronounce aliment (audio)
alimented; alimenting; aliments

transitive verb

: to give aliment to : nourish, sustain

Did you know?

These days you're most likely to encounter "aliment" as a typo for "ailment," but the word was less of a rarity in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. And the word's history goes back even further than that. It dates to the 15th century and comes from Latin alere, meaning "to nourish," by way of "alimentum." Although "aliment" is uncommon in today's English, you may recognize it in the somewhat technical term "alimentary canal"-the name for the long tube in the body through which food passes after it is eaten. "Aliment" also functions as a verb meaning "to give aliment to," or "to nourish or sustain."

Examples of aliment in a Sentence

Noun complained that he had to drive for hours to find any sort of cultural aliment when visiting his parents' rural home

Word History



borrowed from Middle French & Latin; Middle French, borrowed from Latin alimentum, from alere "to nurse, supply with nutrition, support, maintain" + -mentum -ment — more at old entry 1


borrowed form Middle French alimenter, borrowed from Late Latin alimentāre "to nourish, maintain," derivative of Latin alimentum "food, sustenance" — more at aliment entry 1

First Known Use


15th century, in the meaning defined above


15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of aliment was in the 15th century


Dictionary Entries Near aliment

Cite this Entry

“Aliment.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


: food sense 1, nutriment
also : food for the mind or spirit

Medical Definition


al·​i·​ment ˈal-ə-mənt How to pronounce aliment (audio)
: a food or nutrient substance
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