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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.
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.
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.
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.
(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.
be up (one's) alley
To be suited to or aligned with 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 up his alley.
right down someone's alleyand 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.
*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.
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 under 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.
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]
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.
up one's alley
see under right up one's alley.
a blind alley
COMMON A blind alley is a way of acting or thinking that is not effective and will not achieve progress. Sooner or later they will have to realize that this is a blind alley and that they need to rethink their own strategies. Did she regard teaching as a blind alley? Note: A blind alley is a street which is closed at one end.
right up your alleymainly AMERICAN
If something is right up your alley, it is the kind of thing you like or know about. This should be right up my alley but, despite the film's special effects, I found it rather boring. I thought this little problem would be right up your alley. Note: You can also say that something is right down your alley. I'll need whatever information you can turn up within the week. This case seems right down your alley. Note: The usual British expression is right up your street.
a blind alleya course of action that does not deliver any positive results.
1997 New Scientist The next person looking for the same information has to go through the process all over again—even if 1000 people have already been up the same blind alleys.
a ˌblind ˈalleya course of action which has no useful result in the end: Our first experiment was a blind alley, but the second one gave us very promising results.
A blind alley is a narrow passage that is closed at one end.
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.
(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.
up one’s alleyverb
up (one's) alleyInformal
Compatible with one's interests or qualifications: an assignment that is right up your alley.