Definition of alibi in English:



  • 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’
    ‘a defense of alibi’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘As it became clear that the DNA evidence was likely to be accepted, I wondered what new evidence would damage the alibi.’
    • ‘In the circumstances, his evidence as alibi evidence is most unpromising.’
    • ‘He claims an alibi for this morning - counseling sessions.’
    • ‘Also, could new evidence undermine the original alibi?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The appellant never himself gave evidence to support the 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.’
    • ‘Kamara then claimed an alibi, that he was at a school with his sister and the Headmaster.’
    • ‘One of the players against whom an allegation was made, an England international, is understood to be claiming he has an alibi.’
    • ‘He gave evidence himself, and called evidence in support of his alibi.’
    • ‘What is the evidence that established that, other than the evidence of the alibi, ultimately said to be false?’
    • ‘Prosecutors were found to have withheld evidence showing that the alibi of another suspect who had bragged about committing the murders was bogus.’
    • ‘As it turned out, the letter was written on the managing editor's computer, but he has an alibi.’
    • ‘He maintains that he has an alibi for the crucial times surrounding the murder.’
    • ‘She made a statement to the police, giving Iftikhar a false alibi.’
    • ‘He called alibi evidence as to his earlier movements.’
    • ‘And his own Prime Minister Ivan Kostov's initial reaction was that of a criminal with a water-tight alibi: ‘Prove it!’’
    1. 1.1informal An excuse or pretext.
      ‘a catch-all alibi for failure and inadequacy’
      • ‘Excuses and alibis are manifestations of the disease and are to be expected; however, facts presented by the suspected nurse should be considered.’
      • ‘That is his alibi and excuse for doing absolutely nothing apart from parking himself into a limousine and taking his pay.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The second alibi, the Mongol invasion, is yet another favourite of their writing.’
      • ‘Excuses, alibis and wild cover-up stories chased each other around Harry's brain, each more feeble than the last.’
      • ‘There are no excuses, no alibis and no grounds for recourse.’
      • ‘These guys will fall silent, then we'll be bombarded with a slew of alibis and lame excuses for their failure.’
      • ‘One suspects that it has been mainly thought of as a political alibi and an excuse for supervision of the police.’
      • ‘Note that there were the usual raft of excuses and alibis following the failures.’
      • ‘Otherwise, doubts would remain that such steps were aimed at providing an alibi for a possible failure of the bid, he said.’
      • ‘The moment we get into murky decision-making processes, everybody has an alibi.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘We love to make excuses and believe alibis, however unlikely.’
      • ‘There is no need for an alibi to defend the colossal 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.’
      • ‘But the Party does not provide him with an alibi for all his failures.’
      • ‘His alibi was his ever-devoted mother who backed up his story.’
      • ‘His party already has its alibis lined up.’
      defence, defending evidence, plea
      justification, explanation, reason, vindication
      excuse, pretext
      story, line
      View synonyms


[WITH OBJECT]informal
  • 1 Offer an excuse or defense for (someone), especially by providing an account of their whereabouts at the time of an alleged act.

    ‘her friend agreed to alibi her’
    • ‘These sons have been alibied, to our knowledge.’
    • ‘Roz gets her beloved son alibied by some nice simple, incontrovertible (well, provable) facts.’
    • ‘Ashamed, he tried to cover the incidents up, even ordering his representatives to publicly alibi his wife's violence.’
    • ‘Another topic of discussion has developed concerning the man who alibied the husband.’
    • ‘On the 24th, the day that I was to have supposedly murdered Mrs. Stotler, the prosecutors themselves have alibied me, by collecting testimony.’
    cover for, give an alibi to, provide with an alibi, shield, protect
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1[no object]Make excuses.
      ‘not once do I recall him whining or alibiing’
      • ‘The University has never alibied that their "conference schedule" is more important.’
      • ‘His question meant to give the minister a chance to alibi why the administration had absolutely no response to the bombing.’
      • ‘He has never complained, never blamed, never alibied, never lashed out at his critics, never lost his cool, never bemoaned his rotten luck.’
      • ‘He refused to alibi, saying he had simply not done a good job holding onto the football.’
      • ‘You have got two sons that have alibied.’
      • ‘She squirmed and alibied, then finally stated that she could ‘not commit the channel to that kind of use of their staff time and resources’ and advised him to contact the station general manager.’
      • ‘He has been a man about it, he hasn't alibied and he has been willing to accept his responsibilities.’


The weakened nonlegal use of alibi to mean simply ‘an excuse’ is a fairly common and natural extension of the core meaning. It is acceptable in standard English, although regarded as incorrect by some traditionalists


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