[ uh-lahy-uhns ]
/ əˈlaɪ əns /
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the act of allying or state of being allied.
a formal agreement or treaty between two or more nations to cooperate for specific purposes.
a merging of efforts or interests by persons, families, states, or organizations: an alliance between church and state.
the persons or entities so allied.
marriage or the relationship created by marriage between the families of the spouses.
correspondence in basic characteristics; affinity: the alliance between logic and metaphysics.
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Origin of alliance

1250–1300; Middle English aliance<Old French, equivalent to ali(er) to ally + -ance-ance

synonym study for alliance

1. Alliance, confederation, league, union all mean the joining of states for mutual benefit or to permit the joint exercise of functions. An alliance may apply to any connection entered into for mutual benefit. League usually suggests closer combination or a more definite object or purpose. Confederation applies to a permanent combination for the exercise in common of certain governmental functions. Union implies an alliance so close and permanent that the separate states or parties become essentially one.


Other definitions for alliance (2 of 2)

[ uh-lahy-uhns ]
/ əˈlaɪ əns /

a city in NE Ohio.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What is an alliance?

An alliance is the act or state of being in a mutually beneficial relationship to work toward a common goal, as in The United States’ longest alliance is with France. 

Often, alliance refers to a formal agreement between nations that promise to assist each other in war, as in Germany, Italy, and Japan agreed on an alliance during World War II. 

Alliance can also be used more generally to refer to the people or groups that come together in a common cause, as in The invading orcs were defeated by an alliance of men, elves, and dwarves. 

Alliance is similar to words such as confederation, union, and league, which also refer to beneficial partnerships. Alliance is used more generally than these words, however.

Example: The kids at my school formed an alliance to stop the bully from harassing us. 

Where does alliance come from?

The first records of the word alliance come from around 1250. It ultimately comes through the Old French alier, meaning “to ally.” An alliance is created when multiple groups or people decide to ally (join in partnership) with each other.

You have probably seen the word alliance used in history books, especially when learning about wars. Throughout history, nations have repeatedly formed alliances to avoid war or to help defend each other from a larger, more powerful threat. Both World War I and World War II involved alliances between a significant number of nations. In fact, World War I only escalated as badly as it did thanks to a complex web of alliances that forced many different countries into the conflict.

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What are some other forms related to alliance?

  • interalliance (noun, adjective)
  • nonalliance (noun)
  • prealliance (noun)
  • proalliance (adjective)

What are some synonyms for alliance?

What are some words that share a root or word element with alliance

What are some words that often get used in discussing alliance?

How is alliance used in real life?

Alliance is a word used to refer to partnerships or different parties working together toward a common goal.

Try using alliance!

True or False?

An alliance is a cooperative partnership where multiple parties work toward a common cause.

How to use alliance in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for alliance (1 of 2)

/ (əˈlaɪəns) /

the act of allying or state of being allied; union; confederation
a formal agreement or pact, esp a military one, between two or more countries to achieve a particular aim
the countries involved in such an agreement
a union between families through marriage
affinity or correspondence in qualities or characteristics
botany a taxonomic category consisting of a group of related families; subclass

Word Origin for alliance

C13: from Old French aliance, from alier to ally

British Dictionary definitions for alliance (2 of 2)

/ (əˈlaɪəns) /

noun (in Britain)
  1. the Alliance the Social Democratic Party and the Liberal Party acting or regarded as a political entity from 1981 to 1988
  2. (as modifier)an Alliance candidate
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