Definition of alibi in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈalɪbʌɪ/

noun (plural alibis)

1A claim or piece of evidence that one was elsewhere when an act, typically a criminal one, is alleged to have taken place: she has an alibi for the whole of yesterday evening
More example sentences
  • Mr Lydon claims he has an alibi to disprove Mr Dunlop's allegations as he was a guest speaker at a conference hosted by the IACT.
  • One of the players against whom an allegation was made, an England international, is understood to be claiming he has an alibi.
  • What is the evidence that established that, other than the evidence of the alibi, ultimately said to be false?
1.1 informal An excuse or pretext: a catch-all alibi for failure and inadequacy
More example sentences
  • Note that there were the usual raft of excuses and alibis following the failures.
  • Excuses, alibis and wild cover-up stories chased each other around Harry's brain, each more feeble than the last.
  • We love to make excuses and believe alibis, however unlikely.
defence, defending evidence, plea;
justification, explanation, reason, vindication;
excuse, pretext
informal story, line

verb (alibis, alibiing, alibied)

[with object] informal
Provide an alibi for: her friend agreed to alibi her
More example sentences
  • Ashamed, he tried to cover the incidents up, even ordering his representatives to publicly alibi his wife's violence.
  • These sons have been alibied, to our knowledge.
  • Roz gets her beloved son alibied by some nice simple, incontrovertible (well, provable) facts.
cover for, give an alibi to, provide with an alibi, shield, protect


The word alibi, which in Latin means ‘elsewhere’, has been used since the 18th century to mean ‘an assertion by a person that he or she was elsewhere’. In the 20th century a new sense arose (originally in the US) with the meaning ‘an excuse’. This use is a fairly common and natural extension of the core meaning, but is still regarded as incorrect by some traditionalists.


Late 17th century (as an adverb in the sense 'elsewhere'): from Latin, 'elsewhere'. The noun use dates from the late 18th century.

  • Alibi is recorded from the late 17th century, as an adverb in the sense ‘elsewhere’, and was originally a Latin word with the same meaning and spelling. A typical example of its use comes from John Arbuthnot's History of John Bull (1727): ‘The prisoner had little to say in his defence; he endeavoured to prove himself Alibi.’ The noun use, ‘a piece of evidence that a person was somewhere else when a crime was committed’, dates from the 18th century. The weakened sense of ‘excuse’ is early 20th century.

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