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What is the difference between to allege and to claim? Can I use them interchangeably? Or perhaps I can only allege something illegal?

For example, from CNET:

Over the past several months, the two companies have been embroiled in litigation in which Apple alleges that Samsung illegally copied technology and design aspects of the iPad to create the Galaxy Tab.

If I replace alleges with claims, does it change the meaning at all?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Alleges means:

to state something as a fact but without giving proof

It is very similar to claims, but it is used in situations where there is a legal accusation which has not yet been resolved. For example, Apple here alleges Samsung copied technology. This may or may not be true, but in any case it is a legal claim.

You could use claims, but it wouldn't have the same connotations.

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Agreed, an allegation implies some kind of accusation, whereas a claim is just a statement of (unproven) fact. –  Joel Brown Sep 14 '11 at 0:02
Does such an accusation have to be a legal one? –  netvope Sep 14 '11 at 20:00
@netvope no, but that's how I've heard it used most often –  simchona Sep 14 '11 at 21:17

The only difference is one of diction. "Alleges" is in a much higher register than "claims." "Alleges" is also preferred in legal contexts.

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