al·​i·​mo·​ny | \ ˈa-lə-ˌmō-nē How to pronounce alimony (audio) \
plural alimonies

Definition of alimony

1 : an allowance made to one spouse by the other for support pending or after legal separation or divorce
2 : the means of living : maintenance

Examples of alimony in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Deductions will still be allowed for alimony paid as a result of agreements signed in 2018 and before, and such payments will still be taxable to recipients. WSJ, "WSJ Tax Guide 2019: Alimony Payments," 15 Feb. 2019 And ex-spouses who receive alimony are no longer required to claim it as income. CBS News, "Changes in tax law you should know about this year," 17 Feb. 2020 The move, however, is beneficial to alimony recipients in most cases, experts say. Jessica Menton, Detroit Free Press, "These tax breaks are back for 2020 — and it could mean a bigger refund," 27 Jan. 2020 An unanticipated problem was encountered, check back soon and try again Williams 55, and Hunter, 46, are each foregoing alimony and will sell their New Jersey home and share those proceeds, according to court documents obtained by Page Six. Natalie Stone,, "Wendy Williams Finalizes Divorce from Ex-Husband Kevin Hunter: Reports," 22 Jan. 2020 The day of the perfect game, his estranged wife, Vivian, asked the State Supreme Court to hold up his World Series winnings in an alimony dispute. Tyler Kepner, New York Times, "Don Larsen Became an Unlikely Legend in 9 Perfect Innings," 2 Jan. 2020 His wife believes that Mr. Giuliani left his law firm, Greenberg Traurig, in 2018, a month after the divorce was filed, and chose to work for President Trump pro bono in order to reduce any future alimony. Sarah Maslin Nir, New York Times, "Giuliani Divorce: It’s Ugly, It’s Operatic. What Did You Expect?," 13 Sep. 2019 The alimony ended after Andrea Kelly’s remarriage, but Kelly was still required to pay child support as of March when he was jailed for failing to make overdue payments. Megan Crepeau,, "R. Kelly, ex-wife fighting over finances for years, newly released divorce filings show," 15 July 2019 At that time, Clark’s proposal would’ve provided alimony for only a year to those who met certain hardship conditions. Priscella Vega, Los Angeles Times, "Divorced dad targets California’s ‘outdated’ alimony law," 13 Sep. 2019

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

circa 1613, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for alimony

borrowed from New Latin alimōnia, going back to Latin, "food, nourishment, nurture, upbringing," from alere "to nurse, supply with nutrition, support, maintain" + -mōnia, suffix of abstract nouns (going back to the Indo-European noun-forming suffix *-mĕ̄n-/*-mŏ̄n- + the abstract noun formative *-i-) — more at old entry 1

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Time Traveler for alimony

Time Traveler

The first known use of alimony was circa 1613

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Statistics for alimony

Last Updated

2 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Alimony.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for alimony



Financial Definition of alimony

What It Is

Alimony is a series of payments made to an ex-spouse or separated spouse according to a divorce decree or separation agreement.

How It Works

Also known as "spousal support," the idea behind alimony is to provide a spouse with lower income or lower income potential with financial support. It is not the same as child support.

In general, a spouse must have been financially dependent on the other spouse for most of the marriage to receive alimony. The calculations and standard amounts vary by state, but each party's ability to earn money, the length of the marriage, the conduct of the parties, and health and age all affect the amount.

Alimony payments are usually made monthly. For tax purposes, noncash payments and voluntary extra payments do not count as alimony. However, payments to a third party on behalf of the ex- or separated spouse sometimes qualify as alimony (medical expenses, housing costs, tuition, etc.), however.

Why It Matters

From a financial perspective, alimony matters because it has significant tax consequences for both the payer and the receiver. Most notably, alimony is tax-deductible for the payer and taxable for the payee. Because of this tax deduction (and the resulting temptation to mask all payments to an ex as alimony), the IRS applies two tests to ensure that the payments are not really child support or property settlement payments (which are not deductible). For this reason, alimony payments should be explicitly described in the divorce decree or separation agreement, and they must be labeled as alimony. Otherwise, the IRS may tax child support as alimony.

Also, alimony payments to an ex- or separated spouse typically only count as alimony for tax purposes in years when the parties did not file a joint tax return or live in the same dwelling. If alimony payments decrease or terminate during the first three years, filers may be able to recapture the taxes paid (and deductions claimed) under the IRS's recapture rule. In any case, both the alimony payer and alimony payee must file an IRS Form 1040 rather than a 1040A or 1040EZ if alimony is involved.

Source: Investing Answers


How to pronounce alimony (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of alimony

: money that a court orders someone to pay regularly to a former wife or husband after a divorce


al·​i·​mo·​ny | \ ˈa-lə-ˌmō-nē How to pronounce alimony (audio) \

Kids Definition of alimony

: money for living expenses paid regularly by one spouse to another after their legal separation or divorce

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al·​i·​mo·​ny | \ ˈa-lə-ˌmō-nē How to pronounce alimony (audio) \

Legal Definition of alimony

1 : an allowance made to one spouse by the other for support pending or after legal separation or divorce — compare child support
alimony in gross
: lump sum alimony in this entry
alimony pendente lite \ -​pen-​ˈden-​tē-​ˈlī-​ˌtē, -​pen-​ˈden-​tā-​ˈlē-​tā \
: alimony granted pending a suit for divorce or separation that includes a reasonable allowance for the prosecution of the suit

called also temporary alimony

lump sum alimony
: alimony awarded after divorce that is a specific vested amount not subject to change

called also alimony in gross

permanent alimony
: alimony awarded after divorce which consists of payments at regular intervals that may change in amount or terminate (as upon the payee's remarriage)
temporary alimony
: alimony pendente lite in this entry
2 : means of living, support, or maintenance fathers and mothers owe alimony to their illegitimate childrenLouisiana Civil Code

History and Etymology for alimony

Latin alimonia sustenance, from alere to nourish

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More from Merriam-Webster on alimony

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with alimony

Spanish Central: Translation of alimony

Nglish: Translation of alimony for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of alimony for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about alimony

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