al·​lege ə-ˈlej How to pronounce allege (audio)
alleged; alleging

transitive verb

: to assert without proof or before proving
a report alleging that the company deliberately overcharged its customers
She is alleged to have stolen more than $50,000 over the course of several years.
: to bring forward as a reason or excuse
archaic : to adduce or bring forward as a source or authority

Did you know?

These days, someone alleges something before presenting the evidence to prove it (or perhaps without evidence at all), but the word actually derives from the Middle English verb alleggen, meaning "to submit (something) in evidence or as justification." Alleggen, in turn, traces back to Anglo-French and probably ultimately to Latin allegare, meaning "to send as a representative" or "to offer as proof in support of a plea." Indeed, allege once referred to the actions of someone who came forward to testify in court; this sense isn't used anymore, but it led to the development of the current "assert without proof" sense.

Example Sentences

He alleged that the mayor has accepted bribes. The mayor is alleged to have accepted bribes. You allege that she stole a large quantity of money. Do you have any proof?
Recent Examples on the Web Police allege that Johnson fatally shot Bosompra after a personal dispute and altercation between the two men escalated inside the multi-family home. Alison Cross, Hartford Courant, 21 Jan. 2023 The attorneys allege that the officers were inadequately trained and negligently handled the encounter with Anderson. Richard Wintonstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 20 Jan. 2023 The lawsuit does not allege any wrongdoing by the DIA, but only seeks to get the painting back. Tresa Baldas, Detroit Free Press, 19 Jan. 2023 Police allege that Kohberger snuck into a six-bedroom rental house on King Road in Moscow on Nov. 13 and killed the four students, at least some of whom who are believed to have been asleep at the start of the ambush. Michael Ruiz, Fox News, 19 Jan. 2023 Police allege that Peña hired people to shoot at their homes as a form of retribution. Luke Barr, ABC News, 17 Jan. 2023 Police, however, allege those trips to the shops never happened. Elise Hammond, CNN, 17 Jan. 2023 Ironically, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle allege the royal family is not as open about mental health issues as we've been led to believe. Emily Tannenbaum, Glamour, 13 Jan. 2023 Police allege that many of the statements Brian gave after his wife’s disappearance were untruthful. Anisha Kohli, Time, 13 Jan. 2023 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'allege.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Middle English alleggen to submit in evidence or as justification, adduce, from Anglo-French aleger, allegger, probably in part modification of Medieval Latin allegare, from Latin, to send as a representative, adduce in support of a plea (from ad- + legare to depute), in part from Anglo-French aleger to lighten, free, exculpate, from Late Latin alleviare to relieve — more at legate, alleviate

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

Time Traveler
The first known use of allege was in the 14th century


Dictionary Entries Near allege

Cite this Entry

“Allege.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


al·​lege ə-ˈlej How to pronounce allege (audio)
alleged; alleging
: to state as a fact but without proof
allege a person's guilt
: to offer as a reason or excuse
allege illness to avoid work

Legal Definition


transitive verb
al·​lege ə-ˈlej How to pronounce allege (audio)
alleged; alleging
: to state without proof or before proving
: to state (as a fact) in a pleading : aver

History and Etymology for allege

Old French alegier to alleviate, free, confused with Old French alleguer to allege, from Medieval Latin allegare see allegata

More from Merriam-Webster on allege

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