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alley1

[al-ee] /ˈæl i/
noun, plural alleys.
1.
a passage, as through a continuous row of houses, permitting access from the street to backyards, garages, etc.
2.
a narrow back street.
3.
a walk, as in a garden, enclosed with hedges or shrubbery.
4.
Bowling.
  1. a long, narrow, wooden lane or floor along which the ball is rolled.
  2. (often plural) a building for bowling.
  3. bowling green.
5.
Tennis. the space on each side of a tennis court between the doubles sideline and the service or singles sideline.
6.
Rare. an aisle.
Idioms
7.
up / down one's alley, Informal. in keeping with or satisfying one's abilities, interests, or tastes:
If you like science fiction, this book will be right up your alley.
Origin
1350-1400
1350-1400; Middle English al(e)y < Middle French alee walk, passage, derivative of feminine of ale, past participle of aler to walk (French aller), probably < Vulgar Latin *allārī, regularized from allātus, the suppletive past participle of afferre to bring (passive afferrī to be moved, conveyed, to betake oneself); French aller often allegedly < Latin ambulāre to walk (see amble), but this offers grave phonetic problems, since the m and b would not normally be lost
Synonyms
2. See street.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for down his alley

alley1

/ˈælɪ/
noun
1.
a narrow lane or passage, esp one between or behind buildings
2.
3.
(tennis, mainly US) the space between the singles and doubles sidelines
4.
a walk in a park or garden, esp one lined with trees or bushes
5.
up one's alley, down one's alley, See street (sense 10)
Word Origin
C14: from Old French alee, from aler to go, ultimately from Latin ambulāre to walk

alley2

/ˈælɪ/
noun
1.
a large playing marble
Word Origin
C18: shortened and changed from alabaster
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for down his alley

alley

n.

mid-14c., "passage in a house; open passage between buildings; walkway in a garden," from Old French alee (13c., Modern French allée) "a path, passage, way, corridor," also "a going," from fem. of ale, past participle of aler "to go," which ultimately may be a contraction of Latin ambulare "to walk," or from Gallo-Romance allari, a back-formation from Latin allatus "having been brought to" [Barnhart]. Cf. sense evolution of gate. Applied by c.1500 to "long narrow enclosure for playing at bowls, skittles, etc." Used in place names from c.1500.

The word is applied in American English to what in London is called a mews, and also is used there especially of a back-lane parallel to a main street (1729). To be up someone's alley "in someone's neighborhood" (literally or figuratively) is from 1931; alley-cat attested by 1890.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for down his alley

alley

Related Terms

back alley


Alley

Related Terms

tin pan alley


The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with down his alley

alley

In addition to the idiom beginning with
alley
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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