back street

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back street

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.
See also: back, street

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
References in classic literature ?
On Monday, Polly began the "delicate and dangerous task." Instead of going to her pupils by way of the park and the pleasant streets adjoining, she took a roundabout route through back streets, and thus escaped Mr.
I loafed along the back streets studying and studying.
My brother could not hear it for the traffic in the main thoroughfares, but by strik- ing through the quiet back streets to the river he was able to distinguish it quite plainly.
Fortunately it was early, and they went through back streets, so few people saw them, and no one laughed at the queer party.
The quaint back streets of Kingston, where they came down to the water's edge, looked quite picturesque in the flashing sunlight, the glinting river with its drifting barges, the wooded towpath, the trim-kept villas on the other side, Harris, in a red and orange blazer, grunting away at the sculls, the distant glimpses of the grey old palace of the Tudors, all made a sunny picture, so bright but calm, so full of life, and yet so peaceful, that, early in the day though it was, I felt myself being dreamily lulled off into a musing fit.
When I struck the town I see there warn't nobody out in the storm, so I never hunted for no back streets, but humped it straight through the main one; and when I begun to get towards our house I aimed my eye and set it.
Gedge, the landlord of the Royal Oak, who used to turn a bloodshot eye on his neighbours in the village of Shepperton, sum up his opinion of the people in his own parish--and they were all the people he knew--in these emphatic words: "Aye, sir, I've said it often, and I'll say it again, they're a poor lot i' this parish--a poor lot, sir, big and little." I think he had a dim idea that if he could migrate to a distant parish, he might find neighbours worthy of him; and indeed he did subsequently transfer himself to the Saracen's Head, which was doing a thriving business in the back street of a neighbouring market-town.
One house in a back street was bright with the cheerful glare of lights; there was the sound of music in it too, and the tread of dancers, and there were cheerful voices, and many a burst of laughter.
By way of experiment, I stepped into a little shop in a queer old back street, took four gaily decorated boxes of wax matches and three cigars, and laid down a silver piece worth 48 cents.
Appearances are everything, so far as human opinion goes, and the man who will walk down Piccadilly arm in arm with the most notorious scamp in London, provided he is a well-dressed one, will slink up a back street to say a couple of words to a seedy-looking gentleman.
He did not choose any back street to-day, but rode slowly, with uplifted head and free glances, along the principal street all the way to the bridge.
and so the dustman says, I believe, with the strongest approval, and so does the marine-store shop in the back street. Gravely, Handel, for the subject is grave enough, you know how it is, as well as I do.
She lived in a small house in a back street, but it was clean and tidy.
At the first second-hand clothing shop I came to, up a back street, I got a rough rig suitable for a common seaman who might be going on a cold voyage, and bound up my face with a liberal bandage, saying I had a toothache.
I remember, before entering the park, I stood awhile to contemplate the statue of General Belliard, and then I advanced to the top of the great staircase just beyond, and I looked down into a narrow back street, which I afterwards learnt was called the Rue d'Isabelle.