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[bak-al-ee] /ˈbækˈæl i/
dirty, unprepossessing, sordid, or clandestine:
back-alley morals; back-alley political schemes.
Origin of back-alley
An Americanism dating back to 1860-65 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for back alley
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Usually, as in this instance, it is in some cellar giving on a back alley.

    How the Other Half Lives Jacob A. Riis
  • He scuttled across the street; in a flash had vanished in a back alley.

    The Native Son Inez Haynes Irwin
  • Let not the atheist say that there is a child in the back alley dying.

    The Golden Censer John McGovern
  • Thus, and not in treacled cadences, intrigued Mariar and Sir Thomas in the back alley.

    Ptomaine Street Carolyn Wells
  • It was so strange to hear his dream-hero spoken of in this back alley in a slum, and just after he had been thinking of him.

    The Lost Prince Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • For a year she was kept as a Slave in this resort, which was over a saloon, and the entrance was through a back alley.

  • Into the back room over the back alley between the black walls had crept the Harbinger.

  • But the next afternoon when Chuck Grove whistled in our back alley and held up two fingers, I dropped the hoe and went with him.

    Back Home Eugene Wood
  • They rounded the turn and Bill sent the car streaking along the black road like a terrified cat up a back alley.

Contemporary definitions for back alley
noun, adjective

a place of secret or illegal dealings's 21st Century Lexicon
Copyright © 2003-2014, LLC
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Slang definitions & phrases for back alley

back alley


: a back-alley saloon/ back-alley language

noun phrase

An alley or street in a mean and disreputable neighborhood; slum street or area (1860s+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with back alley

back alley

see under back street
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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