General English


  • noun a member of an alliance
  • verb to make an alliance


  • noun a country, person, political party or group which is linked to another in a friendly way so that they can support one another
  • verb to link one country, political party, group or person to another

Origin & History of “ally”

The verb ally was borrowed into English from Old French alier, an alteration of aleier (a different development of the Old French word was aloier, which English acquired as alloy). this came from Latin alligāre ‘bind one thing to another’, a derivative of ligāre ‘tie’; hence the idea etymologically contained in being ‘allied’ is of having a bond with somebody else.

The noun ally seems originally to have been independently borrowed from Old French allié in the 14th century, with the meaning ‘relative’. The more common modern sense, ‘allied person or country’, appeared in the 15th century, and is probably a direct derivative of the English verb.