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

Examples of alley-oop in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web His teammates seem to have realized, as if by accident, that any haphazard high pass to him in the paint can serve as an alley-oop. Louisa Thomas, The New Yorker, 13 Nov. 2023 Ivey kept rolling in the fourth, finding Wiseman for an alley-oop with less than two minutes left to cut the deficit to 11, 108-97. Detroit Free Press, 10 July 2023 Kai Jones put him on a poster on an alley-oop dunk in a highlight play. Anthony Gharib, USA TODAY, 8 July 2023 Houston had an opportunity to win after Smith blocked an alley-oop dunk attempt by Ibou Badji. Mark Inabinett |, al, 8 July 2023 Tide guards broke it more often than not, at least in the first half, generating multiple alley-oop finishes for Charles Bediako and others. Nick Alvarez |, al, 11 Mar. 2023 At times, its post players were flying, catching alley-oops that brought the house down. Dallas News, 3 Mar. 2023 The All-Stars pushed it to 82-79 on an alley-oop from Burton to Myles Colvin with 3:08 left. Indystar Sports, The Indianapolis Star, 10 June 2023 Mazzulla has urged him to develop a scoring punch that goes beyond alley-oops, though, so maybe that will be an offseason focus. Adam Himmelsbach,, 6 June 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'alley-oop.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1965, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of alley-oop was in 1965


Dictionary Entries Near alley-oop

Cite this Entry

“Alley-oop.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Dec. 2023.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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