noun (1)
al·​ley | \ ˈa-lē How to pronounce alley (audio) \
plural alleys

Definition of alley

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a garden or park walk bordered by trees or bushes
2a(1) : a grassed enclosure for bowling or skittles
(2) : a hardwood lane for bowling also : a room or building housing a group of such lanes
b : the space on each side of a tennis doubles court between the sideline and the service sideline
c : an area in a baseball outfield between two outfielders when they are in normal positions hit a line drive into the alley
3 : a narrow street especially : a thoroughfare through the middle of a block giving access to the rear of lots or buildings
4 : an extensive region where destructive natural phenomena of a specified type (such as tornadoes) occur often or are likely to occur The most obvious tornado alley extends from the plains of northwest Texas eastward into north Texas and then northward across Oklahoma, Kansas, and eastern Nebraska.— Tom Konvicka
up one's alley or less commonly down one's alley
: suited to one's own tastes or abilities a job that's right up her alley


noun (2)
plural alleys

Definition of alley (Entry 2 of 2)

: a playing marble especially : one of superior quality

First Known Use of alley

Noun (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun (2)

1720, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for alley

Noun (1)

Middle English, from Anglo-French alee, from aler to go

Noun (2)

by shortening and alteration from alabaster

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Time Traveler for alley

Time Traveler

The first known use of alley was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near alley



alley cat

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Cite this Entry

“Alley.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Jul. 2022.

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More Definitions for alley


al·​ley | \ ˈa-lē How to pronounce alley (audio) \
plural alleys

Kids Definition of alley

1 : a narrow passageway between buildings
2 : a special narrow wooden floor on which balls are rolled in bowling

More from Merriam-Webster on alley

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for alley

Nglish: Translation of alley for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of alley for Arabic Speakers


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