[ verb uh-lahy; noun al-ahy, uh-lahy ]
/ verb əˈlaɪ; noun ˈæl aɪ, əˈlaɪ /
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See synonyms for: ally / allied / allies / allying on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object), al·lied, al·ly·ing.
to unite formally, as by treaty, league, marriage, or the like (usually followed by with or to): Russia allied itself to France.
to associate or connect by some mutual relationship, as resemblance or friendship.
verb (used without object), al·lied, al·ly·ing.
to enter into an alliance; join; unite.
noun, plural al·lies.


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Origin of ally

First recorded in 1250–1300; Middle English alien, from Anglo-French alal(l)ierier, aillaier, Old French alier, from Latin alligāre “to bind to”; see alloy


al·li·a·ble, adjectivepre·al·ly, noun, plural pre·al·lies.pre·al·ly, verb, pre·al·lied, pre·al·ly·ing.


allay, alley, alloy, ally

Other definitions for ally (2 of 2)


an adverbial suffix attached to certain adjectives with stems in -ic that have no forms ending in -ical: terrifically.

Origin of -ally

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What else does ally mean?

An ally is someone that aligns with and supports a cause with another individual or group of people.

A straight ally, more specifically, is an individual outside of the LGBTQ community that supports their fight for equality and rights.

Where did the term ally come from?

In the LGBTQ community, ally is found by the 1990s, an extension of the word ally as “supporter.” The concept of an ally, however, is much older. PFLAG, or Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays was founded in 1973 and has been a major organization for allies ever since.

There have been prominent campaigns to promote allyship, like 2015’s #illgowithyou, in which allies accompany transgender people in bathrooms so they feel safe. The equal sign logo for the Human Rights Campaign has been associated with allyship as well.

From the LGBTQ community, the term ally has spread to refer to people who are aligned in support of other disenfranchised and minority communities, such as people of color.

How to use the term ally

If someone supports LGBTQ rights, they are considered an ally in that community. Many other minority communities adopt the ally moniker with pride.

The human resources department of large corporate companies sometimes define ally in their official company literature, and many LGBTQ support groups welcome allies to their spaces and meetings.

While many in the LGBTQ community value “good” allies, there are many articles that outline how to be a better ally. They cite not taking up space in discussion over someone who is LGBTQ, trying to understand the history and nuance of the movement, and actively fighting injustice and discrimination as it happens.

More examples of ally:

“The rise of the straight ally (and cis ally) has been tremendous and history-changing. For PFLAG, the ally evolution started in 1973, when our founder, Jeanne Manford, publicly identified herself as an ally to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, establishing herself as the mother of the modern-day ally movement. In the time since her brave stand, allies have united with the LGBT community to affect both legal and cultural change, shifting the dialogue about equality from a ‘them’ issue to an ‘us’ issue.”
—Jean-Marie Navetta, Diversity Best Practices, October 2015


This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.

How to use ally in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for ally


verb (əˈlaɪ) -lies, -lying or -lied (usually foll by to or with)
to unite or be united, esp formally, as by treaty, confederation, or marriage
(tr; usually passive) to connect or be related, as through being similar or compatible
noun (ˈælaɪ, əˈlaɪ) plural -lies
a country, person, or group allied with another
a plant, animal, substance, etc, closely related to another in characteristics or form

Word Origin for ally

C14: from Old French alier to join, from Latin alligāre to bind to, 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