Understanding the Idiom: "up someone's street" - Meaning, Origins, and Usage

Idiom language: English
  • up someone's alley

When we talk about an activity or a situation that is “up someone’s street,” we mean that it is something that they are particularly suited for or interested in. This idiom suggests a sense of familiarity and comfort, as if the person in question has found their natural place within this particular context.

The origins of this phrase are unclear, but it may have originated from the idea of a street being a familiar and well-known environment for someone. Alternatively, it could be related to the concept of streets being associated with certain types of activities or lifestyles.

Regardless of its origins, “up someone’s street” is now commonly used in English to express enthusiasm or approval for something that aligns with one’s interests or skills. It can also be used more broadly to describe any situation that feels comfortable and familiar.

In the following sections, we will explore some examples of how this idiom can be used in everyday conversation, as well as some variations on its meaning depending on context.

Origins and Historical Context of the Idiom “up someone’s street”

The idiom “up someone’s street” is a commonly used phrase in English language, which refers to something that suits or matches an individual’s interests, skills or preferences. The origins of this idiom can be traced back to the early 20th century when it was first used in British English.

Historically, the phrase “up someone’s street” was often associated with residential areas where people lived and worked. In those days, streets were more than just places for transportation; they were also social hubs where people gathered to chat, play games and engage in various activities.

Over time, the meaning of the idiom evolved to include not only physical locations but also personal attributes such as hobbies, talents and career paths. Today, it is common to hear people say that a particular job or activity is “right up their street” if it aligns with their interests and skills.

Usage and Variations of the Idiom “up someone’s street”

When it comes to idioms, understanding their usage and variations is crucial in order to use them correctly. The idiom “up someone’s street” is no exception. This phrase can be used in a variety of situations, and its meaning can vary depending on context.


The most common usage of “up someone’s street” is to describe something that suits a person’s skills or interests. For example, if someone enjoys cooking, you could say that a job as a chef would be right up their street. Similarly, if someone has experience in marketing, you could say that a position in advertising would be up their street.

Another way this idiom can be used is to describe something that is convenient or accessible for someone. For instance, if there is a new restaurant opening up near your friend’s house and they love trying new places to eat, you could say that it’s right up their street.


While the basic meaning of “up someone’s street” remains the same across different contexts, there are variations in how this idiom can be used. One variation involves adding adjectives before “street” to emphasize certain aspects of the situation. For example:

– Right down my alley: This variation emphasizes how well-suited something is for the person.

– Up my alleyway: Similar to the previous variation but with an added emphasis on accessibility.

– Just around the corner from me: This variation emphasizes proximity rather than suitability.

Another variation involves using different prepositions instead of “up”. Some examples include:

– Down his/her/their/your/etc. street

– Along his/her/their/your/etc. lines

– In keeping with his/her/their/your/etc. interests

Synonyms, Antonyms, and Cultural Insights for the Idiom

Understanding the synonyms of “up someone’s street” is essential to expand your vocabulary and communicate effectively in English. Some common alternatives include “right up one’s alley,” “in line with one’s interests,” or “suited to one’s tastes.” Each phrase conveys a similar idea but has a slightly different connotation.

On the other hand, antonyms of the idiom can provide us with insight into what it means by highlighting what it does not mean. For example, phrases like “not my cup of tea” or “out of my league” are opposites of up someone’s street since they suggest that something is not suitable for one’s preferences or abilities.

Cultural insights related to idioms are also crucial when learning a new language. Understanding how native speakers use idiomatic expressions can help you communicate more naturally and avoid misunderstandings. In British English, for instance, people often use “up my street” instead of “up someone’s street.” It is also worth noting that this expression originated from Cockney rhyming slang where ‘street’ meant feet.

Practical Exercises for the Idiom “up someone’s street”

Exercise 1: Matching

In this exercise, match the following phrases with their meanings:

a) up someone’s street i) something that is easy or enjoyable for a person
b) out of one’s depth ii) something that is too difficult or challenging for a person
c) not one’s cup of tea iii) something that a person does not like or enjoy doing

Exercise 2: Fill in the Blank

In this exercise, fill in the blank with the correct phrase:

  1. The new job was _________. I had no idea what I was doing.
  2. I love playing basketball. It’s really _________.
  3. I’m sorry, but watching horror movies is just _________. I can’t handle it.
  4. This project is going to be tough. I think we might be ___________.
  5. Cooking isn’t really my thing. It’s just ___________.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using the Idiom “up someone’s street”

When using idioms, it is important to understand their meanings and proper usage. The idiom “up someone’s street” is commonly used in English language, but there are some common mistakes that people make when using this expression.

  • Avoid using the idiom out of context. It is important to use the idiom only when it is appropriate and relevant to the situation.
  • Do not confuse the meaning of “up someone’s street” with other similar expressions such as “down someone’s alley”. These expressions have different meanings and should not be used interchangeably.
  • Avoid overusing the idiom in a conversation or writing. Overuse can lead to confusion and dilute its impact.
  • Be aware of cultural differences in usage. While the idiom may be commonly used in one culture, it may not be well-known or understood in another culture.
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