a passage, as through a continuous row of houses, permitting access from the street to backyards, garages, etc.
a narrow back street.
a walk, as in a garden, enclosed with hedges or shrubbery.
a long, narrow, wooden lane or floor along which the ball is rolled.
(often plural) a building for bowling.
Tennis. the space on each side of a tennis court between the doubles sideline and the service or singles sideline.
Rare. an aisle.
up / down one’s alley, Informal. in keeping with or satisfying one’s abilities, interests, or tastes:
If you like science fiction, this book will be right up your alley.
a choice, large playing marble.
On Oct. 29, Jose Cortez, 32, was found in an alley off of East Third Street.
Will L.A.’s Skid Row Stabber Get Sprung? Christine Pelisek September 6, 2012
“I am a bad person,” she tells him, before recounting her story of how she ended up unconscious in an alley.
‘Nymphomaniac,’ Lars von Trier’s Icy Orgy of Sex and Self-Loathing, Bows At Sundance Marlow Stern January 22, 2014
Nearby in an alley is writing that says: “Revolutionary Gays Everywhere.”
Smiling Under a Cloud of Tear Gas: Elif Shafak on Istanbul’s Streets Elif Shafak June 10, 2013
She recalls wandering off by herself one night from a restaurant in Morocco, making friends with a mysterious girl in the alley.
Alyse Nelson: A Life Less Ordinary Abigail Pesta June 5, 2012
When Al arrived, Andy was back out in the alley again, having a deep and heated conversation with a chainlink fence.
Chefs on Drugs Jason Sheehan July 20, 2009
At last I had to keep her away from the alley altogether, it affected her so.
The Turn of the Tide Eleanor H. Porter
They have moved from the alley; the surroundings were not such as they liked.
Ester Ried Yet Speaking Isabella Alden
They slinked down the alley and seeing a light in the back room of a store, Fenn stopped and went up to peer in.
In the Heart of a Fool William Allen White
Then but a few moments to reach Gerty’s alley, and Gerty’s window.
St. Nicholas Magazine for Boys and Girls, Vol. V, August, 1878, No 10. Various
A hundred yards up the alley he found Lasky in the shadow of a telephone pole.
The Mucker Edgar Rice Burroughs
a narrow lane or passage, esp one between or behind buildings
See bowling alley
(tennis, mainly US) the space between the singles and doubles sidelines
a walk in a park or garden, esp one lined with trees or bushes
up one’s alley, down one’s alley, See street (sense 10)
a large playing marble
mid-14c., “passage in a house; open passage between buildings; walkway in a garden,” from Old French alee (13c., Modern French allée) “a path, passage, way, corridor,” also “a going,” from fem. of ale, past participle of aler “to go,” which ultimately may be a contraction of Latin ambulare “to walk,” or from Gallo-Romance allari, a back-formation from Latin allatus “having been brought to” [Barnhart]. Cf. sense evolution of gate. Applied by c.1500 to “long narrow enclosure for playing at bowls, skittles, etc.” Used in place names from c.1500.
The word is applied in American English to what in London is called a mews, and also is used there especially of a back-lane parallel to a main street (1729). To be up someone’s alley “in someone’s neighborhood” (literally or figuratively) is from 1931; alley-cat attested by 1890.
tin pan alley
In addition to the idiom beginning with
right up one’s alley
- Alley cat
a homeless, usually mongrel, cat that scavenges for food in alleys, streets, etc. Contemporary Examples The alley cat and her kittens would have mugged him already. Up To a Point: Robber Barons Make Way For Robber Nerds P. J. O’Rourke August 8, 2014 Rat is tough, a 15-year-old “alley cat” version of her beautiful mother, […]
- Alley cropping
a method of planting in which rows of trees are interspersed with rows of crops, improving the soil and providing nutrients, particularly nitrogen, to the crops.
- Alley gate
noun a metal spiked gate erected behind a terrace of houses to deter burglars Historical Examples He had stepped outside to find one Smooth Crumbaugh leaning upon the alley gate. Those Times And These Irvin S. Cobb When she got back to the kitchen door she heard Jack closing the alley gate. The Hoosier School-boy […]
- Alley light
a searchlight mounted on a public-safety vehicle or other motor vehicle for sideways lighting.