Green’s Dictionary of Slang

top n.

1. a member of the upper classes.

[UK]Sam Sly 30 Dec. 4/1: Sam sly is now as much, a thing required by most, / As the Times is by the mefchant, or by tops the Morning Post.

2. a dying speech on the gallows.

[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc.
[UK]Sl. Dict.

3. (US black) the head; as phr. on top, intelligence.

[US]E. Genet letter 21 June in Channing War Letters of Edmond Genet 79: Perhaps ‘Les Boches’ will take it into their wooden tops to do a little celebrating of their own that day .
[US] ‘Toledo Slim’ in Irwin Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 231: And as he finished talking, from his hip he flashed a gun, / He blew his blooming top off, and his grifting days were done.
[US]L. Durst Jives of Dr. Hepcat (1989) 9: Hold your piechopper, don’t vip another vop or I’ll take my headache stick and massage your top.
[US]Ragen & Finston World’s Toughest Prison 821: top – The head.
[UK](con. 1960s) Nicholson & Smith Spend, Spend, Spend (1978) 91: I got down a lot of champagne [...] it didn’t half go to my head – woof – knocked my top off.
[UK]P. Barker Union Street 199: She never had much on top.
[Aus]J.J. DeCeglie Drawing Dead [ebook] My top had buzzed internal throughout and I was sick of sitting.

4. (US carnival) any form of tent.

[US]F. Brown Madball (2019) 14: ‘Hi, Dolly. Know if the chow top is still open?’ [ibid.] 29: There are no tents on a carnival lot; they are all tops, from a sleeping top on up, there is not a tent among them.

5. (US Und.) a maximum prison sentence.

[US] ‘Sl. of Watts’ in Current Sl. III:2.

6. (US black) in a lesbian relationship, the ‘masculine’ partner.

[US]R.D. Pharr S.R.O. (1998) 251: ‘I thought you knew all junky broads go top and bottom and all around. A stone junky never knows what she is, a boy or girl, she’s so fucked up’ .

7. in a sado-masochistic relationship, the dominant partner [as opposed to a bottom n.3 ].

[US] in Delacoste & Alexander Sex Work (1988) 51: There are strict rules to B&D [...] No professional top pushes the limits of the bottom.
[US]Jaffe Cohen & Bob Smith ‘To Think That I Saw Him On Christopher Street’ 🎵 There were dozens of daddies, the bottoms and tops / And hundreds of owners of novelty shops.
[US]R. Scott Rebecca’s Dict. of Queer Sl. 🌐 top — 1) (n) in general, the partner in sex who is active, or giving 2) (n) in the Leather Community, a sadist, dom, domme, or dominatrix; the one who takes charge of the scene.
[UK]Guardian Guide 9 Dec. 9: Wonder Woman wasn’t just some leather SM ‘top’ seeking to make ‘bottoms’ of all mankind.
[Aus]L. Redhead Peepshow [ebook] Were you looking for work as a top or a bottom? [...] A dominant or a submissive?
[US]E. White My Lives 122: God made many masochists and very few natural sadists – no wonder all those bottoms must pay for their tops.
[UK]R. Milward Man-Eating Typewriter 479: Novakl was a committed ‘top’, an insatiable penetrator.

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

[US]P. Bourjois In Search of Respect 263: My love affair with street life [...] began to sour when my son’s first words [...] turned out to be ‘tops, tops, tops.’ [...] The sellers on duty shouted or hissed at their prospective clients to advertise their particular brands, delineated by the color of the plastic stoppers on their vials: ‘Graytop, graytop, graytop! Pinktop, pinktop, pinktop! Blacktop,’ and so on.

9. (US black) fellatio.

Jadakiss ‘I’m a Gangsta’ 🎵 She just wanna hop right up in the truck and get reckless, top from the club all the way to the exit.
Killa Kyleon ‘Let’s Get Away’ 🎵 In the car, baby, you giving me top in the drop.
Chief Keef ‘I Don’t Like’ 🎵 I only want the top, I ain't tryna pipe.
67 ‘Today’ 🎵 Bitch tryna give me top, I don’t know you / Move get the fuck out my face.
NAV ‘Myself’ 🎵 His bitch gave me top, don’t want the pussy, he can keep it.

10. see top end under top adj.

11. (N.Z. prison, also the top house) constr. with the, Paremoremo Prison.

[NZ]D. Looser Boobslang [U. Canterbury D.Phil. thesis] 191/2: top, the (also the top house) n. Paremoremo Prison.

In phrases

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

(US) to go mad.

[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Pimp 278: You better see a head-shrinker. You’r slipping your top.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

top-heavy (adj.)


[UK]J. Ray Proverbs (2nd edn) 87: Proverbiall Periphrases of one drunk. He’s disguised [...] He is top-heavy.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Top-heavy Drunk.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Select Trials at Old Bailey (1742) III 54: I had been fuddling with some Friends at the King’s Arms Tavern at Charing-Cross, till I was grown Top heavy.
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Gent.’s Mag. 559: To express the condition of an Honest Fellow, and no Flincher, under the Effects of good Fellowship, it is said that he is [...] Top-heavy.
[UK]General Eve. Post (London) 13 Aug. n.p.: [A young gentleman] who happened to get a little top heavy [...] strayed into a dark room [etc.].
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]C.L. Lewes Comic Sketches 26: While others would say he had, ‘Bung’d his eye — Was knocked up — How came ye so — Had got his little hat on — Top-Heavy — Pot- Valiant — That he had been in the sun — That he was iBarrettn for it’.
[Aus]Examiner 13 Aug. 7/1: He bought half a gallon of rum. He had a hearty booze before he left the ship, so that when he came on shore he was rather top-heavy.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]J. Wight More Mornings in Bow St. 238: Mrs Donaghue was heaviest at top — for she’d got a drop in it that time.
[UK]Paul Pry 30 Sept. 182/1: Unfortunately they drank together, and the victim being a little top-heavy [etc].
Tasmanian Wkly Dispatch (Hobart, Tas.) 10 Jan. 6/4: A constable met a poor fellow, a little top heavy, and says, ‘Why you are in it, I must take you up’.
[UK]Manchester Courier 5 Mar. 3/2: Drunk— [...] Top-heavy [...] Wound up.
[UK]Sinks of London Laid Open 87: A gemman rather top heavy.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 1 Oct. 2/5: An elderly female [was] charged with being ‘top-heavy’.
[US]Burlington Sentinel in Hall (1856) 461: We give a list of a few of the various words and phrases which have been in use, at one time or another, to signify some stage of inebriation: [...] top-heavy.
[UK]London Standard 13 Dec. 3/3: A higher more intense state of beastliness [...] Out [...] Ploughed [...] Top Heavy.
[US]Letters by an Odd Boy 160: ’ I see a man that I should say was drunk; he is boozy, screwed, stewed, tight, lumpy, ploughed, muddied, obfuscated, top-heavy, with three sheets in the wind!
[UK]Sportsman (London) ‘Notes on News’ 18 Jan. 2/1: [T]he seductive influence of rum, even so much as ‘two small drops’ if that quantity to them top-heavy.
[UK]F.W. Carew Autobiog. of a Gipsey 107: He didn’t forget to take a drop himself, bein’ of a natchurably sociable ’sposition and most in general a bit top-heavy when I seen him.
[Aus]Crowe Aus. Sl. Dict. 87: Top Heavy, intoxicated.
[Scot]Eve. Post (Dundee) 11 Apr. 2/5: Caught Top Heavy [...] Copper was apprehended in Tindal’s Wynd for drunkeness.
[US]Salt Lake City (UT) 30 Mar. 4/5: He is [...] top-heavy.
[UK]E. Pugh City Of The World 237: My pitch is about the Angel, and a very hot pitch it is, too, ’specially Sat’day nights, when the young toffs [...] get a bit topheavy.
[Aus]Sport (Adelaide) 4/6: How did RJG come to knock over the tree. Was he top heavy or ‘Foo de Noo’.
[UK]‘William Juniper’ True Drunkard’s Delight.
[UK](con. WWI) F. Richards Old Soldiers Never Die (1964) 106: The majority a little top-heavy and [...] as happy as birds.
[UK]Hull Dly Mail 5 Sept. 4/6: The Magistrate [...] asked how much drink the accused had had. ‘Well, sir,’ replied the constable, ‘ he was not top-heavy’.
[Ire]Sligo Champion 25 Aug. 6/1: You can be [...] ‘flustered,’ ‘tipsy,’ ‘top-heavy’.
topknot (n.) (also topknob) [SE topknot, a tuft of hair or ribbon on top of the head]

1. the head; the scalp.

[US]G.F. Ruxton Life in the Far West (1849) 22: ‘Is the top-knot gone, boy? [...] for my head feels queersome, I tell you.’ ‘Thar’s the Ingun as felt like lifting it,’ answered the other, kicking the dead body.
[UK]E. Waugh Tufts of Heather 109: He’s gone through St. Peter’s needle has owd Bill. An I doubt it’s unsattle’t his top-knot a bit .
[UK]Boy’s Own Paper 1 Oct. 26: I rushed on deck after them, and just succeeded in grabbing one by his woolly top-knot.
[US]‘Hugh McHugh’ John Henry 19: I had enough bum French in my topknot to start one of those sit-back-hold-tight table d’hote places.
[UK]B.E.F. Times 22 Jan. (2006) 291/1: A tin lid, which we fasten on our top-knobs with a strap under the food-grinder.
[Aus]‘Banjo’ Paterson Shearer’s Colt 80: You write the Empire and tell ’em to get cash for those lambs and in everything else to work their own topknots.
[UK]Wodehouse Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit 98: I endeavoured to soothe her with a kindly pat on the topknot.

2. the hair.

[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 3 July 3/3: The kids [...] used to call him ‘Ginger’ on account of the colour of his top-knot.

In phrases

deal one off the top (v.)

see under deal v.

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

(US) from the beginning, at the start; often as take it from the top, to start at the beginning.

[US]S. Allen Bop Fables 47: She is the swingin’est, but let’s take it from the top again.
[US]L. Hansberry Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window in Three Negro Plays (1969) I ii: I want to tell you from the top, Mavis. This is not a good time.
[US]M. Rodgers Freaky Friday 61: OK, we’ll take it from the top very slowly.
go on the top (v.) (also go upon the top)

(UK Und.) to break into houses using entry via an upper window.

[UK]A. Smith Lives of Most Noted Highway-men, etc. I 143: Going on the Top or Hoist, that is, breaking into a House in the dark Evening, by getting in at a Window one Story high.
[UK]C. Hitchin Regulator 20: To go upon the Top, alias that is for two Priggs to see a one pair of Stairs Window open, and the one to get upon the others Shoulders, and so go in.
[UK](con. 1710–25) Tyburn Chronicle II in Groom (1999) xxvii: To go upon the Tap [sic] Is when two Prigs are together, one gets upon the other’s Shoulders, and so enters a Chamber-window.
[UK]Whole Art of Thieving [as cit. 1768].
go over the top (v.) [WWI imagery; the ‘top’ was that of a trench]

to do something dangerous or remarkable, esp. to get over-excited or angry; to excede expectations.

[US]Ade Hand-made Fables 4: A daring Constable and a willing Posse went Over the Top and captured the Supply.
[UK]K. Williams Diaries 12 Jan. 168: She is a lovely girl, but doesn’t quite go over the top like Maggie S. I suppose Maggie can because of a fundamental hysteria – S.H. hasn’t got this.
[UK]F. Taylor Auf Wiedersehen Pet Two 213: No need to go over the top.
[UK]Observer Business 25 July 6: There is, however, no need to go over the top.
[US]D. Spivey ‘If You Were Only White’ 50: The Pelicans went over the top, at least in Paige’s mind, when they added an old Model T to the offer.
knock the top off (v.) (also knock the head off)

1. (Aus.) to fellate.

[Aus]R.G. Barrett Godson 215: [O]ur specialty was blow jobs. [...] Those old dills [...] used to come from miles around to get us to knock the top off it’.

2. (Aus. prison) to masturbate.

[Aus]Tupper & Wortley Aus. Prison Sl. Gloss. 🌐 Knock the top/head off. Masturbate.
[Aus]M.B. ‘Chopper’ Read Chopper 4 77: What’s the use of having mates with tits if you cannot get the buggers to knock the top off it now and then.
little bit off the top (adj.) [pun on hairdressing use]

slightly insane.

[UK]Bateman & LeBrunn [perf. Marie Lloyd] Folkestone for the Day 🎵 And forty voices let it go, ‘A little bit off the top’.
[Scot]Eve. Teleg. (Dundee) 25 Nov. 3/3: Innumerable and curious euphemisms for ‘mad’ [...] ‘balmy in the crumpet’, [...] ‘a tile loose,’ ‘soft in the cocoa-nut,’ ‘off his rocker,’ ‘off his nut,’ ‘off his chump’ [and] ‘a little bit off the top’.
[Aus]C.J. Dennis Sentimental Bloke in DSUE (1984).
off the top (adv.)

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

[US]News (Frederick, MD) 15 Feb. 4/8: ‘How much off the top?’ means the same thing, since interest is deducted in advance and thus comes off the top of the bills counted out by the money lender.
[US](con. 1905–25) E.H. Sutherland Professional Thief (1956) 61: This joint takes 40 per cent off the top of all touches.
[US]D. Dressler Parole Chief 263: ‘The nut comes off the top’ is a saying among the brethren. When stolen articles are cashed in all expenses must be taken care of before the cut is made.
[US](con. 1940s) M. Dibner Admiral (1968) 252: The house gets its cut of the drinks and you get yours, Rico, right off the top.
[US]E. Bunker No Beast So Fierce 119: ‘What kind of end do you want?’ ‘Thirty percent.’ ‘Off the top or after the nut?’.
[US]R. Klein Jailhouse Jargon and Street Sl. [unpub. ms.].
[UK]K. Sampson Powder 60: Wheezer intended to commission the boys on their hundred quid a week, off the top, just to get them into the habit of shedding twenty per cent of everything they got.
[UK]N. Barlay Hooky Gear 196: First thing I do is give Farooq something off of the top.
[US]C. Stella Charlie Opera 139: ‘Can I get a drink first?’ she asked. ‘Can I take it off the top?’ he asked.
[US]D. Winslow The Force [ebook] ‘Every time there’s a big bust, the “community” says the cops ripped some off the top’.

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

[UK]J. Cameron It Was An Accident 53: Scam you off the top soon as look at you thieving cows.
[US]‘Master Pimp’ Pimp’s Rap 61: I’m gonna be straight up with you off the top. I don’t like cops.
over the top (adj.)

1. beyond the usual bounds of taste, behaviour, credibility etc.

[[UK]J. Curtis There Ain’t No Justice 54: Stan’s fourth card was the king of spades. ‘Over the top,’ he said philosophically and paid out].
[UK]J.P. Carstairs Concrete Kimono 178: I seem to recall your ‘over the top’ waistcoats.
[US]H.S. Thompson Hell’s Angels (1967) 44: One week later came the Times-Newsweek double-barrelled blast that really put the Angels over the top.
[UK]A. Payne ‘Willesden Suite’ Minder [TV script] 12: Bit over the top, isn’t it? Men of the cloth downing pints in the cocktail lounge.
[US]Source Oct. 120: One would expect outrageous and over-the-top humor.
[UK]Indep. on Sun. Real Life 9 Jan. 2: Kate Jackson hated wearing the over-the-top dresses.
[UK]N. ‘Razor’ Smith Raiders 276: A bad reputation for over-the-top, gratuitous violence.
[UK]R. Milward Kimberly’s Capital Punishment (2023) 117: I gave him an over-the-top smile.
[Ire]L. McInerney Glorious Heresies 26: By ‘everything’ she means she’s let me fuck her and she’s not even being over the top with that; it was everything, it was the whole world.
[US]A. Kirzman Giuliani xv: He was intent on blowing things up to effect change; every initiative became an over-the-top drama.

2. in attr. use of sense 1.

[UK]K. Richards Life 372: He was an over-the-top man. He had no control whatsoever.

3. very drunk.

[UK]J. McClure Spike Island (1981) 229: They tend to be young men with a whiff of the barmaid’s apron, and they go over the top and just make a bloody nuisance of themselves.
[UK]T. Wilkinson Down and Out 47: They’re fine when I’m buying them a drink, but as soon as I’ve gone over the top, they rob me and they beat me.
top and tail (v.)

(N.Z. prison) a assault by two inmates on a third, also v.

[NZ]D. Looser Boobslang [U. Canterbury D.Phil. thesis] 192/1: top and tail n. a mode of assault whereby two assailants attack a single victim [...] v. to assault someone in the mode described above.
top of the bill (n.) (also top of the pork barrel, ...pot) [theatrical/culinary imagery]

the best, the ultimate.

[US]L.W. Payne Jr ‘Word-List From East Alabama’ in DN III:v 383: top of the pot, n. phr. A person or thing of the highest value, the most excellent one. ‘As we say down here in Georgia, she’s the top of the pot and the pot a bilin’.’.
David Williamson What If You Died Tomorrow (1977) I i: I’m top of the pork barrel, boy.
[UK]‘P.B. Yuill’ Hazell and the Three-card Trick (1977) 75: ‘All right are yer?’ ‘Top of the bill. You?’.
top of the house (n.) (also top of the shop) [the highest numbers on a card]

(bingo) the number 90, 99 or 100.

[UK]A.G. Empey Over the Top 148: The caller-out has many nicknames for the numbers such as ‘Kelly’s Eye’ for one [...] ‘Clickety-click’ for sixty-six, or ‘Top of the house’ meaning ninety.
[Aus]W.H. Downing Digger Dialects 50: top of the house — Number 99 in the game of ‘House.’.
[UK](con. WWI) Fraser & Gibbons Soldier and Sailor Words 122: The final 99, ‘Top of the House.’.
[UK](con. 1900s) F. Richards Old Soldier Sahib (1965) 71: No. 90 – Top of the House, or, Top of the Bleeding Bungalow.
[UK]J. Maclaren-Ross Of Love And Hunger 116: Dead-pan geezer in a white coat calling the numbers. 90, top of the House. 66, clickety-click.
[US]J. Burkardt ‘The Bingo Code’ Wordplay 🌐 99: top of the house. 100: top of the house.
top of the tree (adj.)

1. upper-class, superior, aristocratic, also as n.

[UK]Foote Cozeners (1778) 16: Master Moses is an absolute Proteus; in every elegance, at the top of the tree.
F. Burney Cecilia (1986) IV 307: You must needs think what a hardship it is to me to have him turn out so unlucky, after all I have done for him, when I thought to have seen him at the top of the tree, as one might say!
[UK]Egan Life in London (1869) 54: A morning at Tattersall’s among the top-of-the-tree heroes in society.
[UK]Pierce Egan’s Life in London 7 Nov. 324/3: Ye, Liverpool coves, where 's the pride of your ‘crack un,’ / Now settled’s the butcher, your ‘top o' the tree?’.
[UK]Dickens Bleak House (1991) 10: For years now my Lady Dedlock has been at [...] the top of the fashionable tree.
[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor I 76/2: It’s the top of the tree with his customers; 3d. or 6d. at a go.

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

[UK]Birmingham Dly Post 17 June 7/1: Queen’s Messenger is bound to keep at the top of the tree — for the St. Leger.
[UK]Pall Mall Gaz. 6 Sept. 11/2: In 1871 he [i.e. a racehorse] came with a bound to the very top of the tree, one son, Favorius, winning the Derby.
[UK]Pall Mall Gazette 17 Oct. 2/1: The song ‘If I was only long enough’ landed me with one bound at the top of the tree .
[UK]Sunderland Dly Echo 8 July 6/4: Prisoners were regarded as dangerous criminals, and were at the top of the tree in their own particular line of crime.
[UK]Derby Dly Teleg. 25 July 8/6: [headline] At the Top of the Tree. Derby Architect Head of Profession.
‘Josephine Tey’ Shilling for Candles 141: Christine had been where Marta [...] would have given her right hand to be: at the top of her professional tree.
[UK]Cheltenham Chron. 1 Feb. 7/2: The glioucester district was ‘top of the tree’ in regard to the number of new members.
top of the wozzer (adj.) (also top of the wozza)

(Aus.) first-rate, in first place; thus the leader, the one in charge.

[Aus]Sth Coast Times (NSW) 30 Oct. 36/3: Cringila hard-hitter, Kevin Werner, is at the top of the wozzer in the batting, having been dismissed only once in three digs for a total of 127.
Central J.J. Home News (New Brunswick, NJ) 1 July 1/6: As an Australian [...] I half-expected to find the sheilahs here were top-of-the-wozzer.
C. Bowles G’DAY! 108: Marshall’s old man is top of the wozzer at some oil company.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 24 Aug. 25: ‘Where,’ writes Wayne Grant, of Perth, ‘does the expression ‘top of the wozza’ come from?’ Apparently, according to Grant, the expression, is often used in Perth to describe something as the ultimate, the best. [...] The Wazza, or Wazzer, was the scene of two ‘battles’ between overexuberant Australian troops and Egyptians in 1915. The Wazza was the low native quarter. How the expression came to mean something good instead of something on the crook side is a mystery only Perth can unravel.
[Aus] 19 Apr. 🌐 This is a guy on big money and he gets to play his tunes through Martin Audio's top-of-the-wozzer, primo MLA PA system.
[Aus]email to (Aus.) 🌐 We Are Top of the Wozzer. After tonight when the Penny Panthers defeated the Storm we are now outright competition leader .
[Aus]J.K. Parrott Cost of Truth 27: My home life was warm, loving, open, friendly, and fun; school was easy, and sport was top of the wozza.
top-storey worker (n.) (also top-story worker) [SE top storey + SE worker/worker n.1 (1)]

(UK Und.) a cat burglar.

[UK]V. Davis Gentlemen of the Broad Arrows 105: The ‘top story workers’ (cat-burglars) [...] not only rank as the elite in this particular branch of criminality with the underworld, but are accorded a front-rank place in jail esteem.
[UK]V. Davis Phenomena in Crime 174: As a ‘top storey worker’ [...] he was in a class by himself.
top-to-bottom (n.)

(US black) a large graffito piece that covers a subway coach from top to bottom.

[US]‘Grandmaster Flash’ Adventures 32: I wasn’t painting any top-to-bottoms, my writing style was foul, and my name wasn’t getting around.