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alley cat

pejorative A person (often a woman) of immoral or promiscuous behavior, especially a prostitute. When speaking of men, "tomcat" (or tom cat; literally, a male cat) is the usual equivalent. I'd be wary of her. She's known around here as a bit of an alley cat.
See also: alley, cat


adjective Disreputable, unethical, squalid, and/or surreptitious. It is a modifier always used before a noun. I know a place that does back-alley dental work for a fraction of the normal cost, though, understandably, their results aren't always the best. The governor was found guilty of partaking in back-alley deals with local developers to secure costs lower than his budget.

down (one's) alley

Something that one would be very interested in. A variant of the more common phrase "up (one's) alley." Lou loves baseball, so you should definitely invite him to a game—it would be right down his alley. I love science, so studying medicine is down my alley.
See also: alley, down

a blind alley

A metaphorical path that leads nowhere; a dead end. After spending years trying to prove his hypothesis but failing to get the results he had hoped for, the physicist feared that he had wasted too much time heading down a blind alley.
See also: alley, blind

up (one's) alley

Suited to one's interests. I really like Romantic poetry, so this class on John Keats is right up my alley. I'm sure Dave can fix your car—mechanical things like that are really up his alley.
See also: alley, up

(right) up (one's) alley

Ideally suited to one's interests. Anna loves watching movies, so I'm sure she'll go to the film festival with you—that's right up her alley.
See also: alley, up

right down someone's alley

 and right up someone's alley
Fig. ideally suited to one's interests or abilities. Skiing is right down my alley. I love it. This kind of thing is right up John's alley.
See also: alley, down, right

*up a blind alley

Fig. at a dead end; on a route that leads nowhere. (*Typically:be ~; go ~.) I have been trying to find out something about my ancestors, but I'm up a blind alley. I can't find anything. The police are up a blind alley in their investigation of the crime.
See also: alley, blind, up

(right) up your alley

(spoken) also (right) down your alley
suited to your abilities or interests Harry knows a lot about computers and software, so this job is right up his alley.
See also: alley, up

be (right) up somebody's alley

  (informal) also be (right) down somebody's alley (American & Australian informal)
if something is right up someone's alley, it is exactly the type of thing that they know about or like to do The job should be right up Steve's alley - working with computers, software and stuff.
See also: alley, up

a blind alley

a method of thinking or acting which is not effective because it does not produce any results The latest evolutionary theory may turn out to be a blind alley.
See also: alley, blind

alley cat

A promiscuous woman; also, a person of loose morals. For example, She's constantly picking up men in bars-a real alley cat. This idiom transfers a stray cat that frequents alleys in search of food to a woman of easy virtue, especially a prostitute seeking customers. [Slang; early 1900s]
See also: alley, cat

back alley

see under back street.
See also: alley, back

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.
See also: back, street

blind alley

A dead end; a position without hope of progress or success. For example, That line of questioning led the attorney up yet another blind alley. This term alludes to a street or alley that has no outlet at one end. [Mid-1800s]
See also: alley, blind

right up one's alley

Also, right down one's alley. In one's specialty, to one's taste, as in Writing press releases is right up her alley, or He loved opera, so this program of arias was right down his alley. These idioms use alley in the sense of "one's own province," a usage dating from the early 1600s. [First half of 1900s] Also see cup of tea.
See also: alley, right, up

up one's alley

See also: alley, up

alley apple

1. n. a piece of horse manure. (see also road apple.) The route of the parade was littered with alley apples after about twenty minutes.
2. n. a brick or stone found in the rubble of the streets. Kelly kicked an alley apple so that it struck a garbage can with a crash.
See also: alley, apple

(right) up one’s alley

mod. exactly one’s kind of thing; exactly what one is best equipped to do. It’s not exactly up my alley, but I’ll try it.
See also: alley, right, up

up one’s alley

See also: alley, up

up (one's) alley

Compatible with one's interests or qualifications: an assignment that is right up your alley.
See also: alley, up