Definition of back alley in English:

back alley


  • 1A narrow passage behind or between buildings.

    ‘we exited into a back alley via the fire door’
    • ‘In this city the citizens run madly, ignoring the back alleys, tunnels and buildings of yesterday.’
    • ‘Plans to make East Lancashire's back alleys no-go zones for criminals have been delayed amid legal and health and safety problems.’
    • ‘So I braved the elements as darkness began to fall; walking a circuit of the avenue and back alleys, round the nearby waste ground where a gang of hooded youths were gathered.’
    • ‘The main focus has been on organising community litter picks, although other people have been working behind the scenes to clear back alleys of rubbish.’
    • ‘We're almost a week away from Valentine's Day and I have already found the perfect route from the florist to my girlfriend's house, via back alleys and side streets.’
    • ‘Steve's is not the first complaint I have received about unwanted rubbish being left in the back alleys behind terraced homes.’
    • ‘The soles of his shoes scuff the wet asphalt of black-and-white back alleys, headlights closing in behind him.’
    • ‘The recent surge in break-ins has seen thieves using back alleys to approach homes before breaking into them, mainly through windows at the rear.’
    • ‘The most bizarre example of light pollution in Edmonton is indeed much nearer to home: back alleys, agree the experts.’
    • ‘Unfortunately, this is an area that has a lot of back alleys for the youths to evade us but we are making progress.’
    • ‘He led her out of the Source and they walked in the back alleys to a two story brick building whose second story had been painted bright green.’
    • ‘‘We have written to the council to ask for street lighting to be put up in dark back alleys, pavement repairs plus bumps in the road to slow down traffic,’ he said.’
    • ‘It was through a PPA survey on life in the area that householders' fears over back alleys being used by burglars and other undesirables were voiced, say councillors.’
    • ‘‘However, they can take advantage of back alleys and lanes,’ he said.’
    • ‘Taking an intricate short cut through back alleys and abandoned buildings, she came out onto an empty, dead-end road.’
    • ‘I love the pokey back alleys, the twists and turns of the narrow roads as they feel their way round ancient buildings, even if the buildings are long gone.’
    • ‘Country lanes, laybys, back alleys, railway land, outside tips and playgrounds were the most popular dumping sites.’
    • ‘I went for a stroll around the back alleys and quiet little courtyards hidden behind the main shopping streets.’
    • ‘Even the grimmest of Riis's photographs show only a few people, at most, in the back alleys and basement dives.’
    • ‘Once in the city, she got lost immediately in the maze of back alleys and narrow lanes.’
    1. 1.1[as modifier]Secret and illegal.
      ‘a back-alley abortion’
      • ‘In the days of ineffective or unavailable birth control and back alley abortions, that statement packed a lot of punch.’
      • ‘Sadly, too many of them turn to back alley silicone.’
      • ‘Other women will survive back alley abortions damaged forever, their fertility destroyed.’
      • ‘At least it's not being done in some back alley clinic in the scuzzy part of town.’
      • ‘On September 17, Savannah Gay Pride moved from its old back alley location onto one of the city's main thoroughfares.’
      • ‘Grimy back alley flophouses, squalid arcades lined with girlie nickelodeons and a neon-lined skid row lend the picture an air of authenticity.’
      • ‘‘It's not like the piercing place is some back alley operation,’ I said when Miss H. was worried about the procedure.’
      • ‘The unassuming status of the crime circle on Union Colony worked in Dathe's favour as he and Serena approached the double doors to a back alley nightclub and the two bouncers blocking them.’
      • ‘Hundreds of thousands of women and men travelled from every part of the country to send the message to the government that we won't go back to the days of back alley abortions.’
      • ‘Both of them said that they'd never have an abortion, but they don't want to go back to the days of back alley abortions and women dying.’
      • ‘These tasks take him through back alley surgeries, identity theft, and much more, and each successive task has a more sophisticated piece of technology as its goal.’
      • ‘Abortions could very well be sent back into kitchen operating rooms and back alley services.’
      • ‘Marco isn't very compassionate about the back alley abortion Helen's just had and in fact leaves her shortly after.’
      • ‘In a desperate attempt to rescue her and flee oppressive barrio life, Octavio offers up his Rottweiler to the barbarous world of back alley dogfights.’
      • ‘But every single one of those women might very well decide that the circumstances are so dire for them that they will take their chances with a back alley abortion if a legal one is unavailable.’
      • ‘Having a girlfriend is brilliant, I cautiously think to myself - knowing my newfound joy could easily end from the briefest of back alley confessions.’
      • ‘Women had back alley abortions, a lot of them, and they died from them.’
      • ‘‘But for that to happen a lot of women would have to start dying from back alley abortions,’ said another.’
      • ‘So he found this back alley place that offered high-stakes poker.’
      deceitful, underhanded, dishonest, dishonourable, disreputable, unethical, unprincipled, immoral, unscrupulous, fraudulent, cheating, dubious, dirty, unfair, treacherous, duplicitous, double-dealing, below the belt, two-timing, two-faced, janus-faced, unsporting, unsportsmanlike
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back alley