• synonyms


[noun al-oi, uh-loi; verb uh-loi]
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  1. a substance composed of two or more metals, or of a metal or metals with a nonmetal, intimately mixed, as by fusion or electrodeposition.
  2. a less costly metal mixed with a more valuable one.
  3. standard; quality; fineness.
  4. admixture, as of good with evil.
  5. anything added that serves to reduce quality or purity.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to mix (metals or metal with nonmetal) so as to form an alloy.
  2. to reduce in value by an admixture of a less costly metal.
  3. to debase, impair, or reduce by admixture; adulterate.
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Origin of alloy

1590–1600; < Middle French aloi, Old French alei, noun derivative of aleier to combine < Latin alligāre to bind up, equivalent to al- al- + ligāre to bind (see ally, ligament); replacing earlier allay, Middle English < Anglo-French allai
Related formsun·al·loyed, adjective
Can be confusedallay alley alloy ally (see synonym study at allay)


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for alloy

Historical Examples

  • The only alloy was that he could not understand what Leibnitz wanted.

    Dreamers of the Ghetto

    I. Zangwill

  • They were pleasures which had no alloy in her own humble lot, and why desert them?

  • An alloy is a special kind of solution not quite like an ordinary solution.

    Common Science

    Carleton W. Washburne

  • For easily fusing, make an alloy of equal parts of brass and zinc.

  • But with the alloy of perplexity her radiant visions faded, and she fell asleep.

    Peak and Prairie

    Anna Fuller

British Dictionary definitions for alloy


noun (ˈælɔɪ, əˈlɔɪ)
  1. a metallic material, such as steel, brass, or bronze, consisting of a mixture of two or more metals or of metallic elements with nonmetallic elements. Alloys often have physical properties markedly different from those of the pure metals
  2. something that impairs the quality or reduces the value of the thing to which it is added
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verb (əˈlɔɪ) (tr)
  1. to add (one metal or element to another metal or element) to obtain a substance with a desired property
  2. to debase (a pure substance) by mixing with an inferior element
  3. to diminish or impair
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Word Origin

C16: from Old French aloi a mixture, from aloier to combine, from Latin alligāre, from ligāre to bind
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 alloy


early 14c. "relative freedom of a noble metal from alloy or other impurities," from Anglo-French alai, Old French aloi, from aloiier (see alloy (v.)). Meaning " base metal alloyed with a noble metal" is from c.1400. Modern spelling from late 17c.

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c.1400, "mix with a baser metal," from Old French aloiier "assemble, join," from Latin alligare "bind to, tie to," compound of ad- "to" (see ad-) + ligare "to bind" (see ligament); hence "bind one thing to another." Related: Alloyed; alloying.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

alloy in Medicine


(ăloi′, ə-loi)
  1. A homogeneous mixture or solid solution of two or more metals, the atoms of one replacing or occupying interstitial positions between the atoms of the other.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

alloy in Science


  1. A metallic substance made by mixing and fusing two or more metals, or a metal and a nonmetal, to obtain desirable qualities such as hardness, lightness, and strength. Brass, bronze, and steel are all alloys.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

alloy in Culture


[(al-oy, uh-loy)]

A material made of two or more metals, or of a metal and another material. For example, brass is an alloy of copper and zinc; steel is an alloy of iron and carbon. Alloys often have unexpected characteristics. In the examples given above, brass is stronger than either copper or zinc, and steel is stronger than either iron or carbon.

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.