from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Law An allowance for support made under court order to a divorced person by the former spouse, usually the chief provider during the marriage. Alimony may also be granted without a divorce, as between legally separated persons.
  • noun A means of livelihood; maintenance.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun In law: An allowance which a husband or former husband may be forced to pay to his wife or former wife, living legally separate from him, for her maintenance.
  • noun In Scots law, aliment.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun Maintenance; means of living.
  • noun (Law) An allowance made to a wife out of her husband's estate or income for her support, upon her divorce or legal separation from him, or during a suit for the same.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun law A court-enforced allowance made to a former spouse by a divorced or legally separated person.
  • noun The means to support life.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun court-ordered support paid by one spouse to another after they are separated


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Latin alimōnia, sustenance, from alere, to nourish; see al- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Known since 1655, from Latin alimonia ("food, support, nourishment, sustenance") (English aliment, as in alimentary), itself from alere ("to nourish") + -monia ("action, state, condition").


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word alimony.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • "Alimony is like buying hay for a dead horse."

    - Groucho Marx.

    December 24, 2007

  • Railway telegraphers' shorthand for "Do they agree to?". --US Railway Assn. Standard Cipher Code, 1906.

    January 19, 2013