1 of 3


allied; allying

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


2 of 3


plural allies
: a sovereign or state associated with another by treaty or league
America and its allies
: 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
: a plant or animal linked to another by genetic or taxonomic proximity
ferns and their allies


3 of 3

adverb suffix

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

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
Recent hacks of Caesars Entertainment and casinos owned by MGM were probably carried out by teens and young adults who have allied themselves with one of the world’s most notorious ransomware gangs, part of a trend that has alarmed security experts and defenders of corporate computer networks. Joseph Menn, Washington Post, 22 Sep. 2023 Azerbaijan is allied with Turkey, which publicly backed this week's offensive and has supported Azerbaijan previously with weapons and military advisors. Patrick Reevell, ABC News, 20 Sep. 2023 But conservative Republican lawmakers have been pushing for broad federal spending cuts and some of those allied with Trump are specifically looking to stop money to Ukraine. Aamer Madhani and Seung Min Kim, Anchorage Daily News, 19 Sep. 2023 Derna, about 900 kilometers (560 miles) east of the capital, Tripoli, is controlled by the forces of powerful military commander Khalifa Hifter, who is allied with the eastern Libyan government. Samy Magdy and Yousef Murad,, 13 Sep. 2023 North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is preparing to visit Russian President Vladimir Putin, probably this month, to discuss selling Russia artillery shells and antitank weapons to use in Ukraine, The New York Times reported Monday, citing U.S. and allied officials. Peter Weber, The Week, 5 Sep. 2023 Two smaller parties — the Green Party and Workers’ Party — are expected to ally with MORENA. David Agren, Washington Post, 7 Sep. 2023 In addition, Congress appropriated $4.65 billion in Foreign Military Financing, which allows Ukraine or allied partners grants or loans for military gear. Nick Penzenstadler, USA TODAY, 7 Sep. 2023 As locals tell it, U.S. and allied forces killed extraordinary numbers of civilians, helping transform the area into a Taliban stronghold. Ross McDonnell, The New Yorker, 6 Sep. 2023
McCarthy and his allies had wanted to pass a conservative continuing resolution in an attempt to strengthen their hand in any negotiations with the Senate, but the holdouts to the bill prevented them from doing so. Reese Gorman, Washington Examiner, 24 Sep. 2023 Egypt’s influence in the Gaza strip, a top security priority of U.S. ally Israel, remains a key interest, as does its willingness to crack down on Islamists in the Sinai Peninsula. Claire Parker, Washington Post, 23 Sep. 2023 In May, America and its allies also agreed to provide F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine. Julie Tsirkin, NBC News, 22 Sep. 2023 The new allegations of corrupt foreign dealings could boost the defense for Fox News and the other Trump allies currently fighting Smartmatic in court. Marshall Cohen, CNN, 22 Sep. 2023 For Fidesz and its allies on the American right, symbolism, tone, and gestures all matter more than policy overlap, particularly on the domestic front. Emily Tamkin, The New Republic, 22 Sep. 2023 Zelensky and his aides believe that foot-dragging by some allies — including, at times, the United States — set the stage for difficulties as the nearly 4-month-old counteroffensive has unfolded in the country’s east and south. Laura King, Los Angeles Times, 21 Sep. 2023 Poland is a vital route for arms going to Ukraine from its allies in the U.S. and Europe. Time, 21 Sep. 2023 In response, Representative Eric Swalwell, Democrat of California, pointed out that Mr. Jordan, a close ally of Mr. Trump, was one of four Republicans to defy subpoenas issued by the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attacks when Democrats were in charge. Glenn Thrush, New York Times, 20 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'ally.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Verb and Noun

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

Adverb suffix

-al entry 1 + -ly

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense


1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near ally

Cite this Entry

“Ally.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 3 verb
allied; allying
: to form a connection or relation between : unite
especially : to join in an alliance


2 of 3 noun
plural allies
: a plant or animal linked to another by genetic or evolutionary relationship
ferns and their allies
: one associated or united with another for some common purpose
plural capitalized : the Allied nations in World War I or World War II


3 of 3 adverb suffix


Middle English allien "unite," from early French alier (same meaning), derived from Latin al-, ad- "to" and ligare "to bind" — related to ligament

Adverb suffix

from 1-al + -ly

More from Merriam-Webster on ally

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