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alibi

[al-uh-bahy]
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noun, plural al·i·bis.
  1. Law. the defense by an accused person of having been elsewhere at the time an alleged offense was committed.
  2. an excuse, especially to avoid blame.
  3. a person used as one's excuse: My sick grandmother was my alibi for missing school.
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verb (used without object)
  1. Informal. to give an excuse; offer a defense: to alibi for being late.
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verb (used with object)
  1. Informal.
    1. to provide an alibi for (someone): He alibied his friend out of a fix.
    2. to make or find (one's way) by using alibis: to alibi one's way out of work.
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Origin of alibi

First recorded in 1720–30, alibi is from the Latin word alibī (adv.): in or at another place
Can be confusedalibi excuse (see usage note at the current entry) (see synonym study at excuse)

Synonyms

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Usage note

Alibi in Latin is an adverb meaning “in or at another place.” Its earliest English uses, in the 18th century, are in legal contexts, both as an adverb and as a noun meaning “a plea of having been elsewhere.” The extended noun senses “excuse” and “person used as one's excuse” developed in the 20th century in the United States and occur in all but the most formal writing. As a verb alibi occurs mainly in informal use.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018


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British Dictionary definitions for alibi

alibi

noun plural -bis
  1. law
    1. a defence by an accused person that he was elsewhere at the time the crime in question was committed
    2. the evidence given to prove this
  2. informal an excuse
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verb
  1. (tr) to provide with an alibi
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Word Origin

C18: from Latin alibī elsewhere, from alius other + -bī as in ubī where
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for alibi

n.

1743, "the plea of having been elsewhere when an action took place," from Latin alibi "elsewhere, somewhere else," locative of alius "(an)other" (see alias (adv.)). The weakened sense of "excuse" is attested since 1912, but technically any proof of innocence that doesn't involve being "elsewhere" is an excuse, not an alibi.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper