- 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.
- bowling green.
- 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.
Origin of alley1
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
- a choice, large playing marble.
Origin of alley2
Examples from the Web for alley
The picture you took of the boy lying in the alley also seemed to strike a chord.The Photojournalist Who Stared Down Ebola
November 8, 2014
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 9, 2014
He said his cousin had been found dead in an alley and he had to rush home.The Stacks: How Leonard Chess Helped Make Muddy Waters
August 2, 2014
It had rained while we were inside and the air in the alley smelled almost fresh.Stanley Booth on the Life and Hard Times of Blues Genius Furry Lewis
June 7, 2014
Trell had a bus ticket to Iowa and the promise of a new life in his pocket when he was fatally shot in a Chicago alley in 2012.What’s More Obscene Than Rihanna’s Boobs? Instagram’s Kids With Guns
May 2, 2014
They have moved from the alley; the surroundings were not such as they liked.Ester Ried Yet Speaking
Through the trees the mouth of the alley could be seen, opening out on a moonlit glade.White Fang
Then but a few moments to reach Gerty's alley, and Gerty's window.
Up the alley went the car, police keeping the crowd from following.Tom Swift and his Electric Runabout
He walked on ahead of them, turned down an alley, and disappeared.Be It Ever Thus
Robert Moore Williams
- a large playing marble
Word Origin and History for alley
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.