View synonyms for back-alley


[ bak-al-ee ]


  1. dirty, unprepossessing, sordid, or clandestine:

    back-alley morals; back-alley political schemes.

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Word History and Origins

Origin of back-alley1

An Americanism dating back to 1860–65

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Idioms and Phrases

see under back street .

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Example Sentences

I never want to return to the days of gruesome back-alley abortions.

And it happened with this modern-day back alley butcher in Philadelphia.

Just around the corner from stores like Chanel, Valentino, and Hermès—not exactly a back alley.

The execrable back alley was conducted on the pig-sty basis.

Let not the atheist say that there is a child in the back alley dying.

How slatternly the old back alley fence would look now that the parking system is adopted by neighbors.

Then, bleeding from his shoulder and with blood upon his beard, he made afresh for the passage leading to the back alley.

A man may live in the back alley of life or on the boulevard, according to the dictates of the spirit.


Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.