alley(redirected from alleys)
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(right) down (one's) alley
Something that one is or would be very interested in. A variant of the more common phrase "(right) 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 path or course of action 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.
1. Horse manure. Watch out for alley apples on the trail—a lot of people ride horses there.
2. A loose brick or rock found in the street. Look at all these alley apples—when are they going to repave the street?
A derogatory term for a person (typically a woman) considered immoral or promiscuous, especially a prostitute. The term "tomcat" (or "tom cat," literally a male cat) is more common when referring to a man. I'd be wary of her. She's known around here as a bit of an alley cat.
A suspicious place known for the seedy or nefarious activities that happen there. Stay away from the back alley—I don't want you involved in any of the illegal activities that go on there.
1. A place or area that is regarded as unimportant or insignificant. But you'll get very little foot traffic if you open your shop on this back street.
2. A suspicious place known for the seedy or nefarious activities that happen there. Stay away from the back streets—I don't want you involved in any of the illegal activities that go on there.
adjective Disreputable, unethical, squalid, 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.
be (right) down (one's) alley
To be something that one is or would be very interested in. A variant of the more common phrase "be (right) 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.
be right up (one's) alley
To be ideally suited to or perfectly aligned with one's interests. I really like Romantic poetry, so this class on John Keats should be right up my alley. 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 should be up my alley. I'm sure Dave can fix your car—mechanical things like that are up his alley.
go down a blind alley
To pursue something that ultimately does not lead to a fruitful or satisfactory outcome. After spending years trying to prove his hypothesis but failing to get the results he had hoped for, the physicist feared that he gone down a blind 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. This course seemed right up my alley when I signed up for it, but it ended up being dreadfully boring.
up (one's) alley
Well suited to one's interests. I really like Romantic poetry, so this class on John Keats should be up my alley. I'm sure Dave can fix your car—mechanical things like that are really up his alley.
up a blind alley
At an impasse; at a point where no more progress is possible or no solution can be found. I've gone around and around with various ways to fix this, but I'm just up a blind alley at this point. This merger is going to be up a blind alley if we can't resolve this legal dispute.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
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.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
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.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
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.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
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
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
up (one's) alleyInformal
Compatible with one's interests or qualifications: an assignment that is right up your alley.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
blind alley, (up) a
A dead end, either literally (a street or passage with only one entrance) or figuratively (a situation without hope of progress). The term dates from the sixteenth century.
See also: blind
right up one's alley, to be
To be in one’s particular specialty or to one’s precise taste. The word alley has long been used for one’s special province; Francis Bacon so used it in his essay Of Cunning (1612): “Such men . . . are good but in their own Alley.” Up one’s alley, however, is a twentieth-century turn of phrase. Margaret Carpenter used it in her novel Experiment Perilous (1943): “It isn’t up my alley at all.” See also not my cup of tea.
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer