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

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 The American move effectively abandoned the Kurdish fighters allied with the U.S. and opened the door for the Turkish invasion aimed at crushing them. Lefteris Pitarakis And Bassem Mroue, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Russia moves into Syria to fill the void left by US as tensions grow in NATO with Turkey defying its western allies," 15 Oct. 2019 Predator hunting teams will sometimes work with each other, cross-posting busts and encouraging followers to follow the teams they are allied with. Hanna Kozlowska, Quartz, "There’s a global movement of Facebook vigilantes who hunt pedophiles," 24 July 2019 Sanders has allied with surrogates like Linda Sarsour, an activist, and Rashida Tlaib, a Michigan congresswoman, who are harshly critical of Israel — not just because of its policies, but of its status as a Jewish state. Ron Kampeas,, "Bernie Sanders writes essay on anti-Semitism for Jewish publication," 12 Nov. 2019 Russia has been the major foreign power allied with Syria for decades. Robin Wright, The New Yorker, "America’s Ally in Syria Warns of Ethnic Cleansing by Turkey," 20 Oct. 2019 Turkey moved against Kurdish forces in northern Syria Wednesday, launching an air and ground assault on a militia allied with the US days after President Donald Trump pulled US troops out of the area. Wired, "Turkish ISP Blocks Social Media Sites Near Syrian Border," 11 Oct. 2019 Omegas like Storm, Jean Grey, and Magneto represent the most powerful mutants on Earth, possessing unfathomable upper limits to their mutant abilities, and almost all who exist are allied with Xavier and Krakoa. Alex Abad-santos, Vox, "House of X restores an air of myth and mystique to Marvel’s Merry Mutants ahead of their arrival in the MCU.," 2 Aug. 2019 Another 65 people drowned after their boat sank off the coast of Tunisia in May. The E.U. has allied with the Coast Guard and other Libyan agencies to prevent migrants from making the dangerous journey by sea. Fox News, "Up to 150 migrants feared dead as boats capsize in Mediterranean Sea off Libyan coast," 26 July 2019 Flash forward to the present, where Gotham Girl is allied with Bane now. Christian Holub,, "How Tom King's Batman run has built up to 'City of Bane'," 17 July 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The discussion of whether U.S. allies contribute enough to their own defense is as old as many of the deployments themselves. Carla Martinez Machain, The Conversation, "Why does the US pay so much for the defense of its allies? 5 questions answered," 2 Dec. 2019 Its response has been to challenge the U.S. and American allies across thousands of miles of terrain from Kabul to Gaza. Seth J. Frantzman, National Review, "Iran’s Multi-Front War against America and Its Allies," 2 Dec. 2019 Trump has lobbied allies to avoid Huawei over worries its equipment might help Chinese electronic spying. Arkansas Online, "Brazil’s Bolsonaro under fire after Trump slaps tariffs," 2 Dec. 2019 Murkowski and Heitkamp, longtime allies on issues affecting indigenous people, also created the Commission on Native Children, which recently held its first meeting. Author: Dave Kolpack, Anchorage Daily News, "Stalled bill to help solve indigenous cold cases gains new traction in Congress," 30 Nov. 2019 The cautious approach frustrates some allies like Ron Briggs, who helped write the voter initiative that brought the death penalty back to California in 1978 but has since become an opponent of the death penalty. Alexei Koseff,, "With state executions on hold, death penalty foes rethink ballot strategy," 29 Nov. 2019 Jackson says that's helped her organization bring together unlikely allies from across the ideological spectrum — including Trump — during one of the most polarizing political climates in U.S. history. Gabrielle Canon, USA TODAY, "Jessica Jackson, a single mom from California, took on the prison system — and changed her life," 29 Nov. 2019 Japan and South Korea, longtime allies and peacemakers in the region, are embroiled in their own political spat, complete with a burgeoning trade war. Aj Willingham, CNN, "5 things to know for November 29: Climate strikes, Afghanistan, North Korea, UK," 29 Nov. 2019 The two senators from adjacent states have become so linked in fact, that some Sanders' supporters have started pleading with him to distinguish himself from his longtime friend and Senate ally. Nicole Sganga, CBS News, "Bernie Sanders looks beyond contests in Iowa and New Hampshire," 28 Nov. 2019

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

4 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Ally.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 7 December 2019.

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More Definitions for ally


How to pronounce -ally (audio) How to pronounce -ally (audio)

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


How to pronounce -ally (audio) How to pronounce -ally (audio)

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ally

Spanish Central: Translation of ally

Nglish: Translation of ally for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ally for Arabic Speakers

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