England, Russia and France formed the Triple Entente .

Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy and Turkey as a supporting country formed the Triple Alliance .

This is what my History book says in the First World War chapter. But wait, is Allies and the Allied powers the same thing as the Triple Alliance or are they the same thing as Triple Entente?

I think that both are the same as Triple Alliance(They seem to be inflections of the word "Alliance"). I am asking this question because in the same chapter, my book uses the words Allies and Allied powers(to describe a group of countries). I tried searching the web but i am getting confused.

  • 3
    In American history, England, Russia, and France were the Triple Entente, but we also interchange that with Allied Powers or Allies. The Triple Alliance, Germany, Austro-Hungary, Italy (then Ottoman Empire replaced Italy) were always called that or the Central Powers.
    – ed.hank
    Jan 11, 2017 at 0:06
  • 1
    @ed.hank, thanks. I think that is more like an answer. It would be better if you post it as an answer.
    – MrAP
    Jan 11, 2017 at 0:10

3 Answers 3


The Triple Alliance - Germany, Austro-Hungary, Italy were always called that or the Central Powers (along with the Ottoman Empire.)

The countries fighting the Central Powers were referred to as The Allies at the start and during the course of the First World War.

The countries fighting the Central Powers are referred to in treaties as The Allied Powers or The Allied and Associated Powers after the First World War.

England, Russia, and France who also fought the Central Powers were the Triple Entente, i.e., The Triple Entente was a subset of The Allies or The Allied powers or The Allied and Associated Powers.

Reference: Re: WWI, is the term "Allies" a retronym?

  • They're not really interchangeable - Allied Powers is a superset of the Triple Entente... en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allies_of_World_War_I#History
    – user13123
    Jan 11, 2017 at 4:19
  • Yes and no, yes I believe you are technically correct. But in common usage here, and to answer the OPs essential question I believe you can reasonably interchange Allies (Allied Powers) with Triple Entente and be for the most part ok. As long as you realize the Allies also included the USA, Japan, and a host of other smaller countries and the Entente was the original 3 of Russia, France, England.
    – ed.hank
    Jan 11, 2017 at 13:29
  • Nope - the Triple Entente is only ever the three treaty powers before the war (maybe right at the start). Long before the US came into the fight, there was easily a dozen or more other Allied Powers in the mix - including Italy which was one of the Triple Alliance until 1915. Conflating Triple Entente and Allies is just wrong
    – user13123
    Jan 11, 2017 at 13:34
  • Did you miss the part where I just said that and agreed with you? It still doesnt change the fact that in common usage people interchange them, is this correct... no, do people and even text books constantly do it... yes. The OP's main question here were the terms the Allies and the Triple Alliance and the confusion between them, and I think that is what has been answered, no need to argue about semantics :)
    – ed.hank
    Jan 11, 2017 at 13:39
  • When the question is about semantics, that's what the discussion will be about. I don't know about "common usage" - it's hard to cite, and your experience is not my experience. My high school history class and textbook talked about the Triple Entente in the pre-war context and Allied Powers post-1914.
    – user13123
    Jan 11, 2017 at 20:38

The terms are not really interchangeable - the Triple Entente refers to the common alliance of France, Russia, and the UK leading up to the war. It originated in separate agreements between France and the UK, and France and Russia. German aggression and familial ties between royal families of the UK and Russia eventually led to the three-way agreement.

Almost as soon as the war started, a number of other nations in alliance with on or more members of the original Triple Entente entered into the war, and so this group became the Allies of World War I. After the war, the Treaty of Sèvres defined the term Allied Powers and Principal Allied Powers (UK, France, Italy, Japan, Serbia).

The Triple Alliance of Germany, Italy, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire had been in place since 1882. At the start of the war in 1914, the Central Powers were simply Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire - but were soon joined by the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria. Italy decided not to join the war as part of the Triple Alliance (due to a disagreement with the Austro-Hungarian Empire over territory), and eventually joined as the Allies in 1915.


At first, it was "three against three." The Triple Alliance was Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy. The Triple Entente was Britain, France and Russia.

Italy left the Triple Alliance at the beginning of the war, and later joined the Entente in 1915. Later in the war, the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria joined Germany and Austria-Hungary, which were renamed "the Central Powers." That would make it four against four.

But the Central Powers attacked/fought with a bunch of smaller nations, Belgium, Luxembourg, Serbia, Montenegro, Romania, Greece, Japan, and ultimately the United States, all of which aligned with the Entente.

Because it was a case of "everyone else" against "four," the "everyone else" became known as the "Allies." They are not "Triple Alliance," nor are they the "Triple Entente," but an "expanded" version of what had been the Entente.

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