WordReference Random House Learner's Dictionary of American English © 2019
al•ley1 /ˈæli/USA pronunciation   n.[countable]pl.  -leys. 
  1. a passage, such as behind a row of houses.
  2. a narrow back street.
  1. Idioms(right) up or down one's alley, highly suited to one's interests or abilities.

WordReference Random House Unabridged Dictionary of American English © 2019
al•ley1  (alē),USA pronunciation n., pl.  -leys. 
  1. a passage, as through a continuous row of houses, permitting access from the street to backyards, garages, etc.
  2. a narrow back street.
  3. a walk, as in a garden, enclosed with hedges or shrubbery.
  4. Sport[Bowling.]
    • a long, narrow, wooden lane or floor along which the ball is rolled.
    • (often pl.) a building for bowling.
    • See  bowling green. 
  5. Sport[Tennis.]the space on each side of a tennis court between the doubles sideline and the service or singles sideline.
  6. [Rare.]an aisle.
  7. Informal Termsup or  down one's alley, in keeping with or satisfying one's abilities, interests, or tastes:If you like science fiction, this book will be right up your alley.
  • Latin ambulāre to walk (see amble), but this offers grave phonetic problems, since the m and b would not normally be lost
  • Vulgar Latin *allārī, regularized from allātus, the suppletive past participle of afferre to bring (passive afferrī to be moved, conveyed, to betake oneself ); French aller often allegedly
  • Middle French alee walk, passage, derivative of feminine of ale, past participle of aler to walk (French aller), probably
  • Middle English al(e)y 1350–1400
    • 2.See corresponding entry in Unabridged . See  street. 

al•ley2  (alē),USA pronunciation n., pl.  -leys. [Chiefly Northeastern U.S.]
  1. a choice, large playing marble.
  • probably al(abaster) + -y2, spelling, spelled to conform with alley1 1710–20

Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers::

alley /ˈælɪ/ n
  1. a narrow lane or passage, esp one between or behind buildings
  2. See bowling alley
  3. chiefly US the space between the singles and doubles sidelines
  4. a walk in a park or garden, esp one lined with trees or bushes
Etymology: 14th Century: from Old French alee, from aler to go, ultimately from Latin ambulāre to walk
alley /ˈælɪ/ n
  1. a large playing marble
Etymology: 18th Century: shortened and changed from alabaster

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