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[bak-street] /ˈbækˌstrit/
taking place in secrecy and often illegally:
back-street political maneuvering; back-street drug dealing.
Origin of back-street
First recorded in 1895-1900

back street

a street apart from the main or business area of a town.
Compare side street.
First recorded in 1630-40 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for back-street
Historical Examples
  • The “Sporting Doctor” hails from a back-street in the Blackfriars-road.

    The Seven Curses of London James Greenwood
  • Then he escaped by the window into a back-street; I followed him, but he was too quick for me.

  • Its mother ran shrieking out of some back-street hard by, in time to see the little bleeding body carted up in a mangled heap.

    The Sorrows of Satan Marie Corelli
  • Personally, he was subjected to no further annoyance, and soon forgot that unpleasant experience in the back-street.

    The Secret Glory Arthur Machen
  • Mr. Porcupine, innocently believing him, left his country hedgerows, and took a garret in a back-street in London.

    Comical People Unknown
  • So, too, it was by a mere chance that I presently found myself the proprietor of a shop in a Whitechapel back-street.

    The Uttermost Farthing R. Austin Freeman
  • He made his escape through back-street, through the (then great) gate, into the Marsh, and gott into France.

  • Eugene saw White as an interesting type—tall, leathery, swaggering, a back-street bully evolved into the semblance of a gentleman.

    The "Genius" Theodore Dreiser
  • You just didn't go up to the Tower of Zeus looking like a back-street brawler.

    Pagan Passions Gordon Randall Garrett
  • And now, her wry sly smile, peeping from underneath her battered hat-brim, meets me at every back-street corner.

    A Poor Man's House

    Stephen Sydney Reynolds
Idioms and Phrases with back-street

back street

Also,back alley. A less prominent or inferior location; also, a scene of clandestine or illegal dealings. For example, The highway department is very slow to clear snow from the back streets, or Before they were made legal, abortions were often performed in back alleys. Although back street literally means “one away from the main or business area of a town or city,” this term, from the early 1600s, became associated with underhanded dealings, and back alley, from the mid-1800s, is always used in this sense.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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