Definition of alibi in English:


nounPlural alibis

  • 1A claim or piece of evidence that one was elsewhere when an act, typically a criminal one, is alleged to have taken place.

    ‘she has an alibi for the whole of yesterday evening’
    • ‘She made a statement to the police, giving Iftikhar a false alibi.’
    • ‘He gave evidence himself, and called evidence in support of his alibi.’
    • ‘The prosecution alleges she gave him a false alibi by claiming she was in Soham on the day the girls died, when she was really in Grimsby.’
    • ‘It also has to be clear that the accused has been told of the evidence against him so that if he has an alibi he can use it.’
    • ‘Also, could new evidence undermine the original alibi?’
    • ‘In the circumstances, his evidence as alibi evidence is most unpromising.’
    • ‘He maintains that he has an alibi for the crucial times surrounding the murder.’
    • ‘One of the players against whom an allegation was made, an England international, is understood to be claiming he has an alibi.’
    • ‘What is the evidence that established that, other than the evidence of the alibi, ultimately said to be false?’
    • ‘He claims an alibi for this morning - counseling sessions.’
    • ‘The appellant never himself gave evidence to support the alibi.’
    • ‘Kamara then claimed an alibi, that he was at a school with his sister and the Headmaster.’
    • ‘And his own Prime Minister Ivan Kostov's initial reaction was that of a criminal with a water-tight alibi: ‘Prove it!’’
    • ‘Others suggested that Sherman was at fault for trying to present an alibi defense.’
    • ‘This conclusion is sufficient also to dispose of the complaint about redirection on the date of the alibi witness statements.’
    • ‘As it became clear that the DNA evidence was likely to be accepted, I wondered what new evidence would damage the alibi.’
    • ‘As it turned out, the letter was written on the managing editor's computer, but he has an alibi.’
    • ‘He called alibi evidence as to his earlier movements.’
    • ‘Prosecutors were found to have withheld evidence showing that the alibi of another suspect who had bragged about committing the murders was bogus.’
    • ‘Mr Lydon claims he has an alibi to disprove Mr Dunlop's allegations as he was a guest speaker at a conference hosted by the IACT.’
    1. 1.1informal An excuse or pretext.
      ‘a catch-all alibi for failure and inadequacy’
      • ‘His apology for the production of ignorant students consists of the same bunch of alibis and rationalizations we've been fed by education professors for decades.’
      • ‘The second alibi, the Mongol invasion, is yet another favourite of their writing.’
      • ‘There is no need for an alibi to defend the colossal failure.’
      • ‘Excuses, alibis and wild cover-up stories chased each other around Harry's brain, each more feeble than the last.’
      • ‘Until this spring when he told manager Phil Garner, he offered no alibis, accepted the criticism without complaint, and did the best he could with what he had.’
      • ‘But the Party does not provide him with an alibi for all his failures.’
      • ‘Note that there were the usual raft of excuses and alibis following the failures.’
      • ‘That is his alibi and excuse for doing absolutely nothing apart from parking himself into a limousine and taking his pay.’
      • ‘His party already has its alibis lined up.’
      • ‘The moment we get into murky decision-making processes, everybody has an alibi.’
      • ‘One suspects that it has been mainly thought of as a political alibi and an excuse for supervision of the police.’
      • ‘On the other hand, he has to avoid the danger that the parties push all their difficult problems over to him so that they have an alibi for failure to achieve something.’
      • ‘We love to make excuses and believe alibis, however unlikely.’
      • ‘There are no excuses, no alibis and no grounds for recourse.’
      • ‘Excuses and alibis are manifestations of the disease and are to be expected; however, facts presented by the suspected nurse should be considered.’
      • ‘Otherwise, doubts would remain that such steps were aimed at providing an alibi for a possible failure of the bid, he said.’
      • ‘The problem is the advocates can't talk to the defendants, and have no way of finding out if they have alibis or innocent explanations for apparently suspicious behavior.’
      • ‘His alibi was his ever-devoted mother who backed up his story.’
      • ‘These guys will fall silent, then we'll be bombarded with a slew of alibis and lame excuses for their failure.’
      • ‘Yet the unionists still cannot come to the party, and with mind-numbing dumbness some parts of the media and the political establishment seek to provide them with alibis for their abject failure.’
      defence, defending evidence, plea
      View synonyms

verbalibis, alibied, alibiing

[with object]informal
  • Provide an alibi for.

    ‘her friend agreed to alibi her’
    • ‘On the 24th, the day that I was to have supposedly murdered Mrs. Stotler, the prosecutors themselves have alibied me, by collecting testimony.’
    • ‘Ashamed, he tried to cover the incidents up, even ordering his representatives to publicly alibi his wife's violence.’
    • ‘Roz gets her beloved son alibied by some nice simple, incontrovertible (well, provable) facts.’
    • ‘Another topic of discussion has developed concerning the man who alibied the husband.’
    • ‘These sons have been alibied, to our knowledge.’
    cover for, give an alibi to, provide with an alibi, shield, protect
    View synonyms


The word alibi, which in Latin means ‘elsewhere’, has been used since the 18th century to mean ‘an assertion by a person that he or she was elsewhere’. In the 20th century a new sense arose (originally in the US) with the meaning ‘an excuse’. This use is a fairly common and natural extension of the core meaning, but is still regarded as incorrect by some traditionalists


Late 17th century (as an adverb in the sense ‘elsewhere’): from Latin, ‘elsewhere’. The noun use dates from the late 18th century.