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.
Recent Examples on the Web
While most followers stayed with Hak Ja Han’s mainstream Unification Church, some followed Preston and others joined Sean, who allied with another brother, Justin, the founder of a small arms company called Kahr Arms. TIME, 4 Apr. 2024 And two months later, the French officially allied with the Americans in the Revolution, eventually leading to full independence from the British. Tori Latham, Robb Report, 3 Apr. 2024 Putting restrictions on the builder’s remedy may seem an ideological 180 for Wicks and Bonta, both of whom have allied themselves with YIMBY activists. Calmatters, The Mercury News, 2 Apr. 2024 Finance was democratized in the form of the world’s first stock exchange, and the leaders of the republic were wise enough to ally themselves with the country’s commercial interests. Gideon Lewis-Kraus, The New Yorker, 25 Mar. 2024 Image This time, Mr. Peltz increased the pressure by allying with two Disney veterans with intimate knowledge of the company: Ike Perlmutter and Jay Rasulo. Lauren Hirsch, New York Times, 16 Mar. 2024 Warren-Darby is an aide to Mayor Todd Gloria, and Foster is closely allied with council members who want to shrink Gloria’s legislative power. David Garrick, San Diego Union-Tribune, 6 Mar. 2024 Moïse is allied with Guy Philippe, a former police official and rebel leader who served time in the U.S. after pleading guilty to money laundering. Bert Wilkinson, Quartz, 19 Mar. 2024 It was actually allied with the ruling Alaouite dynasty and benefited from the royals’ protection. Theo Zenou, Smithsonian Magazine, 8 Mar. 2024
The prospect of an offensive has raised global alarm, including from Israel's top ally, the U.S., which has demanded to see a credible plan to protect civilians. Democrat-Gazette Staff From Wire Reports,, 8 Apr. 2024 Both during his administration and in more recent years Trump has repeatedly poured cold water on Washington’s defense and security treaties, something that has rattled allies in both Asia and Europe alike. Hanako Montgomery, CNN, 7 Apr. 2024 Demonstrators carried torches and posters denouncing Netanyahu, who is also facing pressure from allies, including the United States, over Israel’s punishing military campaign in Gaza. Jennifer Hassan, Washington Post, 7 Apr. 2024 And despite the turmoil, OPEC and its allies are sticking with their production cuts. Lucia Kassai, Fortune, 7 Apr. 2024 Facing resistance to that plan from his far-right allies, Mr. Netanyahu has publicly dismissed the idea. Patrick Kingsley, New York Times, 5 Apr. 2024 These striking remarks from a Biden ally suggest a desire to frame the rift as political, a dispute between leaders and personalities with different perspectives. Hussein Ibish, The Atlantic, 5 Apr. 2024 Secretary of State Antony Blinken, attending a NATO meeting in Brussels, was dialed into Thursday's call at one of the most stressful points in the increasingly fraught relationship between the two allies. Shannon K. Crawford, ABC News, 5 Apr. 2024 Numerous governments, including Israel’s close allies, condemned the killings of the workers. Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times, 5 Apr. 2024

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 15 Apr. 2024.

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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