Up a Blind Alley (Origin)

What Is the Origin of the Saying "Up a Blind Alley"?

The term "going up a blind alley" means heading towards uncertainty or the unknown, i.e., progressing without any clue of how the situation will develop.

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Up a Blind Alley (Origin)

Examples of Use:

  • I know we're heading up a blind alley, but let's keep going.
  • We're going up a blind alley here. There is no information about what lies ahead.
  • This might go well, or it might go badly. We're going up a blind alley.
The idiom "up a blind alley" originates from the turn of the 19th century (evidence). It refers to an alley whose ending is unknown (e.g., the alley might suddenly end with a brick wall, or it might open out onto a buzzing main road). Whatever the case, those standing at the entrance of the alley cannot see its end (i.e., they are "blind").

The word "blind" is used in a similar way in the term "blind bend" (one that drivers cannot see around) and "blind junction" (one that hides approaching traffic).

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This page was written by Craig Shrives.