ally

verb
al·ly | \ə-ˈlī, ˈa-ˌlī \
allied; allying

Definition of ally 

(Entry 1 of 3)

transitive verb

: to unite or form a connection or relation between : associate He allied himself with a wealthy family by marriage.

intransitive verb

: to form or enter into an alliance two factions allying with each other

ally

noun
al·ly | \ˈa-ˌlī, ə-ˈlī \
plural allies

Definition of ally (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : a sovereign or state associated with another by treaty or league America and its allies

2 : one that is associated with another as a helper : a person or group that provides assistance and support in an ongoing effort, activity, or struggle a political ally She has proven to be a valuable ally in the fight for better working conditions. often now used specifically of a person who is not a member of a marginalized or mistreated group but who expresses or gives support to that group The storyline on "Glee" captures something larger that we are seeing with a new generation of allies (allies are people who support LGBT rights but aren't LGBT themselves).— David M. Hall

3 : a plant or animal linked to another by genetic or taxonomic proximity ferns and their allies

Definition of -ally (Entry 3 of 3)

: -ly entry 2 terrifically in adverbs formed from adjectives in -ic with no alternative form in -ical

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of ally in a Sentence

Verb

There may be occasions when America can ally with some of those states, as we did during the Gulf War. — Ramesh Ponnuru, National Review, 15 Oct. 2001 Teresa's right to teach, however, would not be vindicated until our time when the late Paul VI named her a doctor of the church. In her own lifetime Teresa had the good sense to ally herself with outstanding supporters such as the observant Franciscan Peter Alcantara and the famous Dominican theologian, Domenico Báñez. — Lawrence S. Cunningham, Commonweal, 28 Jan. 2000 The singers ally themselves with a gifted songwriter, and everyone gets some major-label exposure for what just happens to be a splendid album. — Michael Azerrad, Rolling Stone, 13-27 July 1995 Generally, however, psychoanalysts do ally themselves with two positions, the first of which is that dreams are meaningful. — Wynn Schwartz, Dreamtime and Dreamwork, 1990 She's allied herself with the moderates on this issue. countries allying themselves with the EU He'll even admit that he's hoping to ally himself to a wealthy family by marriage. They've allied with their former enemies.

Noun

When the Soviets pulled out in early 1989, the ensuing power vacuum turned former allies into enemies. The Muslim fighters known as mujahideen, who were unified in their struggle against the Soviets, disbanded and fought one another for control of Kabul in a devastating civil war. — Jiffer Bourguignon, Saveur, March 2008 Our allies would need us more than we would need them, so we could count on them to rally to our side in a crunch. — Samantha Power, New York Times Book Review, 29 July 2007 These groups have learned from experience that the media are their most valuable ally. Publicity increases tips that fuel an investigation, and many communities have launched special-alert systems in the past few years to get news of an abduction on the air within minutes. — Andrew Murr, Newsweek, 29 July 2002 fought with the Allies in World War II She's counting on her allies in the state legislature.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Israel has warned Iran, which is allied with the Syrian government, against building up a military presence on its doorstep. Ian Deitch, Fox News, "Israel fires missile at drone that entered from Syria," 12 July 2018 But the Republican Party, which is allied to Sarksyan, has a majority in the legislature and withheld its support for Pashinian. NBC News, "Armenia in chaos as ruling elite clings to power," 2 May 2018 This story felt like a really important one to tell because here is this amazing group of women who have come together to not only empower each other through self-defense training, but allied their community. National Geographic, "Meet the 'Kickboxing Grannies' of Kenya's Most Dangerous Slum," 28 June 2018 Running the region of 13 million people virtually on its own while allying with Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union in the national parliament gives the CSU outsize influence. Iain Rogers, Bloomberg.com, "In Bavaria, Anti-Merkel Campaign on Migration Reaches Limits," 28 June 2018 Members of the group have been implicated in the deaths of Americans and thousands of Iranians, primarily in the 1980s when the neo-Marxist group was allied with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in the war between Baghdad and Tehran. chicagotribune.com, "Giuliani works for foreign clients while serving as Trump's attorney," 10 July 2018 Shrive, Miller’s lawyer in the original texting lawsuit, said he is not allied with anyone, despite a $1,100 contribution to Smitherman’s last council campaign. Dan Horn, Cincinnati.com, "Smitherman vs. Sittenfeld: Texting dispute snags Cincinnati's next mayoral hopefuls," 10 July 2018 Kansas City Council members reached by The Star, including those allied with James, have not been briefed on the plan and knew few details about it. Steve Vockrodt, Mara Rose Williams And Katy Bergen, kansascity, "Sly James, Chamber want sales tax hike to expand pre-K in KCMO, but questions remain," 11 June 2018 She'll be joined by three vice presidents who were allied with one of Walker's challengers, Sophia Perkins. Adam Ashton, sacbee, "Election sweeps in new leaders at SEIU 1000 | The Sacramento Bee," 22 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Chinese leaders have tried, so far without success, to recruit European and other governments as allies. San Antonio Express-News, "China’s options to hit US go beyond imports," 9 July 2018 Leaders must choose not to exploit that belief and instead do the messy work of tackling solvable problems with any willing ally – even if doing so is not immediately rewarded. charlotteobserver, "Ashley Christensen," 3 July 2018 However, shortly afterward French President Emmanuel Macron denied Trump's suggestion that NATO allies have agreed to boost defense spending beyond 2 percent of GDP. Fox News, "Trump dubs himself 'stable genius,' calls NATO summit a success," 13 July 2018 Is there any reason to mandate tariffs immediately without major efforts to negotiate fair and equitable trade relations with our best customers and our allies? Phillip Molnar, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Can the U.S. economy withstand a trade war?," 13 July 2018 Instead, the discussion has been eclipsed by a fixation on a number that is a poor proxy for how NATO allies should share military burdens. The Economist, "How policy debates in Europe become untethered from reality," 12 July 2018 On Monday, Trump continued to lambast NATO allies on Twitter: The United States is spending far more on NATO than any other Country. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "The Russia scandal casts a shadow on Trump’s European trip.," 9 July 2018 And Janelle Monae’s magnificent show became a sanctuary – for black people, women, members of the LGBTQ community, and their allies – complete with a killer soundtrack. Piet Levy, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Summerfest 2018 recap: The best and worst moments from the world's largest music festival," 9 July 2018 Conservationists and their Democratic allies in Congress have shown little interest in amending what’s considered to be the world’s most powerful species-protection law. Peter S. Alagona, Outside Online, "The Endangered Species Act Needs a Reboot," 9 July 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of ally

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Noun

1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for ally

Verb

Middle English allien, from Anglo-French alier, from Latin alligare to bind to, from ad- + ligare to bind — more at ligature

Noun

see ally entry 1

Adverb suffix

-al entry 1 + -ly

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about ally

Phrases Related to ally

the Allies

Statistics for ally

Last Updated

25 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ally

The first known use of ally was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for ally

ally

verb

English Language Learners Definition of ally

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to join (yourself) with another person, group, etc., in order to get or give support

ally

noun

English Language Learners Definition of ally (Entry 2 of 2)

: a country that supports and helps another country in a war

the Allies : the nations that fought together against Germany in World War I or World War II

: a person or group that gives help to another person or group

ally

noun
al·ly | \ˈa-ˌlī, ə-ˈlī\
plural allies

Kids Definition of ally

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a person, group, or nation associated or united with another in a common purpose

ally

verb
al·ly | \ə-ˈlī, ˈa-ˌlī\
allied; allying

Kids Definition of ally (Entry 2 of 2)

: to form a connection between : join in an alliance He allied himself with supporters of the new law.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on ally

What made you want to look up ally? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

a generally accepted meaning of a word

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble-tiles-that-read-scrabble-quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!