al·​ley-oop | \ ˌa-lē-ˈyüp How to pronounce alley-oop (audio) \
plural alley-oops

Definition of alley-oop

1 basketball : a play in which a leaping player catches a pass above the basket and immediately dunks the ball The meeting of man and ball was dazzling, the two handed alley-oop slam-dunk spectacular.— Shelly Smith also : the usually high, arcing pass thrown on such a play He threw an alley-oop to George Lynch on a fast break … The New York Times
2 American football : a play in which the quarterback throws a high, arcing pass into the end zone to be caught by a leaping receiver Quarterback Moore hooked up with receiver Moore on one of their patented alley-oops to make the score 20-7.— Austin Murphy also : the pass itself … an alley-oop pass to Chandler from Manning gave the Saints a 13-7 lead. — Larry McMillen … he … tossed an alley-oop to Tate Casey for the first touchdown pass of his college career. USA Today

Other Words from alley-oop

alley-oop verb, transitive + intransitive alley-ooped; alley-ooping; alley-oops
… they dribbled around us, passed behind their backs, and alley-ooped for a bunch of slam dunks. — D. J. MacHale Rob alley-ooped the ball toward the basket. — Stanley Gordon West On the opening drive of the third quarter, Flacco basically alley-ooped a pass from the 7, and Heap outmuscled safety Tyrone Carter for the ball in the rear right corner of the end zone. — Edward Lee

First Known Use of alley-oop

1965, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for alley-oop

alteration of allez-oop, cry of a circus acrobat about to leap, probably from French allez, 2nd person plural imperative of aller to go + English -oop, perhaps alteration of up

Learn More About alley-oop

Time Traveler for alley-oop

Time Traveler

The first known use of alley-oop was in 1965

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast About alley-oop

Dictionary Entries Near alley-oop




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for alley-oop

Cite this Entry

“Alley-oop.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon


Test Your Vocabulary

The Great British Vocabulary Quiz

  • union jack speech bubble
  • Named after Sir Robert Peel, what are British police called?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!