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
In addition to undermining U.S. and allied efforts to defend Ukraine, expanding North Korean–Russian cooperation threatens to destabilize the Korean Peninsula. Oriana Skylar Mastro, Foreign Affairs, 19 Feb. 2024 There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but suspicion quickly fell on Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia allied with Hamas. Michael Levenson, New York Times, 14 Feb. 2024 Until last year, political parties allied to Thaksin had won the most seats in every election since 2001. Helen Regan, CNN, 13 Feb. 2024 Khan’s party remains unlikely to be able to form a government because its candidates fell short of an absolute majority and other parties are unlikely to ally with it. Rick Noack, Washington Post, 12 Feb. 2024 One advised that in the West Indies, rifle associations had been used to ally whites with mixed race members to put down Black uprisings. TIME, 12 Feb. 2024 One historical example: United Nations forces’ retreat from the Chosin Reservoir in Korea in late 1950 preserved U.S. and allied forces, weakened Chinese forces and set conditions for later U.N. counterattacks. David Axe, Forbes, 10 Feb. 2024 One was allied with the British Labor Party and the second with the Communist Party, which followed the Soviet position in favor of partition. Emily Bazelon, New York Times, 1 Feb. 2024 Holocaust education is mandated in the public school curriculum, and the federal government staunchly allies itself with Israel. Lenora Chu, The Christian Science Monitor, 30 Jan. 2024
The present order involves more players than the Cold War, and the two largest powers, the United States and China, have an interdependent economic relationship, whereas the Soviet Union and its allies were largely siloed from Western economic activity. Elizabeth N. Saunders, Foreign Affairs, 20 Feb. 2024 The Trump campaign and its allies mounted a wide-ranging legal effort challenging the election results in court, which Giuliani spearheaded. Alison Durkee, Forbes, 20 Feb. 2024 Among the men killed were two senior commanders who were close allies of the slain former Quds Force commander, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, according to Iranian media reports and photographs of them together in the Syrian battlefield. Farnaz Fassihi, New York Times, 19 Feb. 2024 Do your due diligence, find out where your allies stand and don’t disclose information that someone may use against you. Eugenia Last, The Mercury News, 19 Feb. 2024 The latecomers to the vigil are unlikely allies: two Republicans who favor tough law and order policies. Riley Robinson, The Christian Science Monitor, 18 Feb. 2024 The comments come as Kyiv has issued dire warnings about the consequences of allies not supplying Ukraine with enough ammunition and weapons. Kostiantyn Khudov, Washington Post, 18 Feb. 2024 Ukraine's European allies are appealing to the U.S. Congress to approve a package that includes aid for Ukraine -- $60 billion that would go largely to U.S. defense entities to manufacture missiles, munitions and other military hardware for the battlefields in Ukraine. Geir Moulson, Kerstin Sopke, Illia Novikov and Barry Hatton The Associated Press,, 18 Feb. 2024 President Katalin Novak, Orban’s loyal but largely impotent ally, resigned last Saturday amid public furor over her decision in April 2023 to pardon the deputy director of a children’s home who had helped to cover up the abuse of underaged boys. Christian Edwards, CNN, 17 Feb. 2024 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 4 Mar. 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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