Green’s Dictionary of Slang

top n.

1. [mid-19C] a member of the upper classes.

2. [mid-19C] a dying speech on the gallows.

3. [1930s+] (US black) the head; as phr. on top, intelligence.

4. [1950s+] (US Und.) a maximum prison sentence.

5. [1970s+] in a sado-masochistic relationship, the dominant partner [as opposed to a bottom n.3 ].

6. [1980s+] (US drugs) a vial of crack cocaine [different varieties are indicated by the variously coloured plastic tops of the vial].

7. [2000s+] (US black) fellatio.

8. see top end under top adj.

In phrases

slip one’s top (v.) [SE top, i.e. the head/brain]

[1960s] (US) to go mad.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

top-heavy (adj.)

[mid-17C–1910s] drunk.

topknot (n.) (also topknob) [SE topknot, a tuft of hair or ribbon on top of the head]

1. [early 19C–1950s] the head; the scalp.

2. the hair.

In phrases

deal one off the top (v.)

see under deal v.

from the top [jazz use, i.e. the top of the score]

[1930s+] (US) from the beginning, at the start; often as take it from the top, to start at the beginning.

go on the top (v.) (also go upon the top)

[early 18C] (UK Und.) to break into houses using entry via an upper window.

go over the top (v.) [WWI imagery; the ‘top’ was that of a trench]

[1920s+] to do something dangerous or remarkable, esp. to get over-excited or angry.

knock the top off (v.) (also knock the head off)

[1980s+] (Aus. prison) to masturbate.

little bit off the top (adj.) [pun on hairdressing use]

[1900s+] slightly insane.

off the top (adv.)

1. [20C+] taken first, esp. when sharing out money, legally or otherwise, e.g. expenses come off the top.

2. [1990s+] (US) from the beginning, immediately [musical imagery, one reads a score from the top].

over the top (adj.)

1. [1960s+] beyond the usual bounds of taste, behaviour, credibility etc.

2. in attr. use of sense 1.

3. [1980s+] very drunk.

top of the bill (n.) (also top of the pork barrel, ...pot) [theatrical/culinary imagery]

[20C+] the best, the ultimate.

top of the house (n.) (also top of the shop) [the highest numbers on a card]

[20C+] (bingo) the number 90, 99 or 100.

top of the tree (adj.)

1. [late 18C+] upper-class, superior, aristocratic.

2. in a superior position; the best of a type.

top of the wozzer (adj.) (also top of the wozza)

[1950s+] (Aus.) first-rate, in first place; thus the leader, the one in charge.

top-storey worker (n.) (also top-story worker) [SE top storey + SE worker/worker n.1 (1)]

[1930s–40s] (UK Und.) a cat burglar.