9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[al-uh-bahy] /ˈæl əˌbaɪ/
noun, plural alibis.
Law. the defense by an accused person of having been elsewhere at the time an alleged offense was committed.
an excuse, especially to avoid blame.
a person used as one's excuse:
My sick grandmother was my alibi for missing school.
verb (used without object)
Informal. to give an excuse; offer a defense:
to alibi for being late.
verb (used with object)
  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.
Origin of alibi
1720-30; < Latin alibī (adv.): in or at another place
Can be confused
alibi, excuse (see usage note at the current entry; see synonym study at excuse)
2. explanation, reason, justification.
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. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for alibi
  • These days, an alibi would have to true as the evidence would be easy to confirm one way or the other.
  • The defendant has presented what is commonly known as an alibi defense.
  • But its whereabouts are central to his alibi.
  • Prosecutors said they verified her alibi.
  • Rosenberg is naturally determined to preserve the integrity of the alibi.
  • All of the houseguests turn out to have a motive for murder and a flimsy alibi.
  • And then Wilding, a well-off contractor who seems to have been in the dead man's debt, produces his ironclad alibi.
  • Both girls claimed innocence, and the police were unable to break either alibi, even though one of them was clearly lying.
  • Investigators have said they aren't satisfied with his alibi.
  • It is no longer art; it is an alibi.
British Dictionary definitions for alibi


noun (pl) -bis
  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
(informal) an excuse
(transitive) to provide with an alibi
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
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Word Origin and History for alibi

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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