al·​ly | \ ə-ˈlī How to pronounce ally (audio) , ˈa-ˌlī How to pronounce ally (audio) \
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


al·​ly | \ ˈa-ˌlī How to pronounce ally (audio) , ə-ˈlī How to pronounce ally (audio) \
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


adverb suffix

Definition of -ally (Entry 3 of 3)

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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Her organization situates itself specifically on the progressive left, and is attempting to ally itself with the broader environmental movement and with activists focussed on social and racial justice. Rebecca Tuhus-dubrow, The New Yorker, "The Activists Who Embrace Nuclear Power," 19 Feb. 2021 So our biggest interest right now is bringing more talent to the studio in Frisco – bringing more talent to the Dallas metroplex – and to ally with talent that’s already here. Dom Difurio, Dallas News, "‘This isn’t an exit’: Inside Gearbox’s $1.3 billion sale to Embracer Group with studio head Randy Pitchford," 5 Feb. 2021 Facebook in particular has made efforts to ally itself with governments and those in power. Washington Post, "Trump ban by social media companies came after years of accommodation for world leaders who pushed the line," 15 Jan. 2021 The Kankara kidnapping is also raising fears about the evolution of Boko Haram, which has expanded from its base in northeast Nigeria to ally itself with bandit groups in the northwest. Joe Parkinson, WSJ, "Kidnapped Nigerian Schoolboys Say Ransom Was Paid, Tell of Beatings," 23 Dec. 2020 The Creek Nation adopted chattel slavery as a strategic effort, Roberts said, to ally with white settlers by assimilating to their culture. NBC News, "The Black Native American descendants fighting for the right to belong," 20 Nov. 2020 Businesses should not celebrate government gridlock but should instead ally with government in solving social problems and rebuilding the economy, writes Just Capital chief strategy officer Alison Omens in a piece for Fortune. David Meyer, Fortune, "Nobody really knows which coronavirus strategy is the right one," 16 Nov. 2020 Unlike Cohen, who chose to ally himself with Trump, Mary Trump was a blood relation. Andrea Bernstein, The New York Review of Books, "Pattern of Deception: From Trump Family Business to Grifter in Chief," 5 Oct. 2020 But Lea did not publicly ally the krewe with the anti-police brutality movement, as many members wished. Doug Maccash | Staff Writer,, "Krewe of Nyx sued by float builder, accused of breaking parade contract worth hundreds of thousands," 16 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Duchess lives on the California coast, where her most important ally is Walk, the town’s police chief. Washington Post, "10 books to read in March," 2 Mar. 2021 Oscar Picardo, a researcher at the Francisco Gavidia University, said that Bukele's party and its coalition ally might may have won enough seats for a two-thirds majority in congress, which would give the president even more power. Marcos AlemÁn, Star Tribune, "Salvadoran president appears to win control of congress," 1 Mar. 2021 In 2011, Yemen’s embattled president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, accused the US, his closest ally, of instigating the mounting protests against him, but the gambit failed to slow the momentum of his ouster., "Today in History," 1 Mar. 2021 The main one is, to not have gone farther with my key ally Dr Jill. Dalton Ross,, "Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire: Marty Piombo regrets being an 'a--hole' after the game," 1 Mar. 2021 His opinion of McConnell soured when his once-ally acknowledged Joe Biden’s election win. Lydia Wang,, "In The Trump Vs. McConnell Fight, There Are Only Losers," 17 Feb. 2021 In Trump’s lifelong pursuit of fame, money, adulation and power, sports has always been his ally. Scott Ostler,, "President Trump’s longtime allies in the sports world are showing him the door," 13 Jan. 2021 Sheldon was also a staunch supporter of our great ally the State of Israel. Mike Brest, Washington Examiner, "Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson dies at 87," 12 Jan. 2021 That's frustrating to activists like Wise, who worry their victory is being snatched away at the last minute despite an administration that's otherwise an outspoken ally. Alexandra Jaffe,, "Activists worry about Biden’s commitment to a higher minimum wage," 15 Feb. 2021

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.

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First Known Use of ally


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense


1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for ally

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

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Time Traveler for ally

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for ally

Last Updated

5 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Ally.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
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More Definitions for ally



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



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

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


al·​ly | \ ˈa-ˌlī How to pronounce ally (audio) , 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


al·​ly | \ ə-ˈlī How to pronounce ally (audio) , 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.

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More from Merriam-Webster on ally

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ally

Nglish: Translation of ally for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ally for Arabic Speakers

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