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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

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.
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

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

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.
See also: alley, blind

right up your alley

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.
See also: alley, right, up

a blind alley

a 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.
See also: alley, blind

a ˌblind ˈalley

a 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.
See also: alley, blind

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
References in periodicals archive ?
The CRM solution Byrd Alley recently integrated with The Community strengthens The Institutes' engagement with these Community members to share relevant information about new course offerings, career tips, and more.
The alley, which on paper runs north to south between Scott and Cumberland streets, is indistinguishable from any other part of the parking lot because it hasn't functioned as an alley for decades.
Greenway alley - between Greenway and Rustic Circle from Monticello to Rustic alley
Luers would like the city to approve a pilot green alley project, where other resurfacing materials could be used.
8220;It's our goal at Uptown Alley to make an impact in our community, both at our location and beyond,” says Jimmy Cabanban, General Manager at Uptown Alley.
In July, Alley as well as the company with which she developed her weight loss program, Organic Liaison, was served with a class-action lawsuit.
This year, it started on February 29--outside the original Tornado Alley.
From the turn of the century to the early 1920s, the most popular bowling alley was Amazeen's.
Alley exhorted that the search and discovery of truth was a God-given desire, the most fulfilling human experience.
The pair apparently got close as Alley competed on 'DWTS' this past season and likely through her dance partner Chmerkovskiy.
If the council fails to fund the Back Alley Improvement Team many areas of the town will see their streets used again as dogs' toilets and a dumping ground for builders' rubble, old cookers and fridge/freezers, etc.
Sphinx Alley was originally built with 1,200 statues, with one side lined up with ram-headed sphinxes and the other with regular sphinxes with human heads.
In Existence Without Form, Sands (now director of TU Dance in Minnesota) picked up where Alley left off, employing a lyrical modern vocabulary set within a clear (albeit somewhat simplistic) structure.
Alley, 74, authored a number of books on church-state separation and could always be relied on to debunk the Religious Right's pseudo-history.
And then there are the people who shop at Santee Alley.