: having a mean, furtive, or squalid character or air
back-alley gossip
: done secretly and illegally by someone using crude and dangerous methods
… postabortion distress (often caused by back-alley operations).Marguerite Holloway, Scientific American, April 2001

Word History

First Known Use

1894, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of back-alley was in 1894

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Dictionary Entries Near back-alley

Cite this Entry

“Back-alley.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jun. 2024.

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