Origin of back-street

First recorded in 1895–1900

back street

  1. a street apart from the main or business area of a town.
Compare side street.

Origin of back street

First recorded in 1630–40 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for back-street

Historical Examples of back-street

  • The “Sporting Doctor” hails from a back-street in the Blackfriars-road.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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 Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.