- 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 for alley on Thesaurus.com
- a large playing marble
Word Origin and History for down one's 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.
Idioms and Phrases with down one's alley
down one's alley
see right up one's alley.
In addition to the idiom beginning with alley
- alley cat
- blind alley
- right up one's alley