1. excellent, first-rate.
|Spanish Rivals I ii: He’s a top fiddler — and I could a’ danc’d Old Roger like a ribbon.|
|You Can’t Win (2000) 112: Top dough for you, isn’t it, kid?|
|Web of the City (1983) 36: See if it’s [i.e. marijuana] top stuff or just crap.|
|Big Rumble 109: Tough! Top guys!|
|Puberty Blues 9: Once you made it into a surfie gang, you were a top chick, with a spunky boyfriend.|
|G’DAY 1: Darlene is the daughter of Mr and Mrs Foster. Darlene is a top sort. She comes across for some of Shane's mates in the back of their bog wagons.|
|‘Old Zebra Dun’ in Whorehouse Bells Were Ringing (1995) 83: You’re a top hand! I could use you on the drive.|
|Davo’s Little Something 5: Her curly blonde fair, her blues eyes, her top body.|
|Observer 27 Dec. 32: Rave culture. Responsible for...Ecstasy-induced seratonin levels. Top buzz!|
|Mystery Bay Blues 251: It was a beautiful spring day [...] What a top day, he smiled.|
|Stump 186: It feels fuckin top.|
|Life 368: When I got there I saw these top men, Willie Weeks on bass, Andy Newmark on drums and Ian McLagan.|
|Tales of the Honey Badger [ebook] It was a top night and one I’ll remember.|
|What They Was 18: His cousin [...] robbed some top brers [...] and ghosted .|
|Crust on its Uppers 33: There’s top screaming and shouting and going ahead.|
SE in slang uses
see also under relevant n.
(orig. US) the chief, the boss, the president, thus second banana, the boss’s assistant.
|[||Strip Tease 40: ‘I got hired as a third banana [...] That’s a catcher for the rough stuff. You take a pie in the kisser, seltzer in the pants, the hatchet in the leg’].|
|Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956) 183: I got to be all-around top banana.|
|Flesh Peddlers (1964) 197: He was always a top banana in burly.|
|The Same Old Grind 15: ‘I am Aaron “Smiley” Shapiro [...] the second banana’.|
|Family Arsenal 198: Never trust the top banana, Murf.|
|Nam (1982) 110: Me being the fucking new guy and the top banana, I had to make up my mind.|
|Guardian 30 Aug. 2: He’s my government’s top banana.|
1. a woman’s breasts.
|Barry McKenzie [comic strip] in Complete Barry McKenzie (1988) 76: Has she got a decent set of top bollocks?|
|Traveller’s Tool 67: A horny little nurse standing by the cot with a fantastic pair of top bollocks nearly bursting out of her uniform.|
|Observer (London) Rev. 26 Apr. 12/7: He promises that we can ogle their top bollocks.|
|posting to www.textmi.com/gemma_k 25 July 🌐 I can’t believe the top ballocks were out!!!! The puppies, the melons, the love punch bags, the fat twins, the big bastards, the funbags....think I still have sun stroke.|
2. the best or most popular of its kind [var. on dog’s ballocks n.].
|Indep. Rev. 17 June 20: The sea bass is the top bollocks today.|
(UK und.) a waistcoat pocket .
|Thieves Slang ms list from District Police Training Centre, Ryton-on-Dunsmore, Warwicks 11: Top box: Vest pocket.|
(UK und.) a leading villain.
|Blood Miracles 7: Dan’s dealt with English top boys, Dutch producers, Russian smugglers.|
1. (orig. US) in the services or the police, the most senior officers.
|To War With Whitaker (1994) 117: The trouble is your top brass are overconfident [...] your gear is still inferior to the enemy’s.diary 2 Jan. in|
|Bulletin (Phila., PA) 14 Sept. 4/1: The top police brass spreads out a hot carpet for the local cops .|
|Cast the First Stone 179: Historically, when a police department is under fire, a complete reshuffling of the Top Brass ensues.|
|(con. 1968) Reckoning for Kings (1989) 356: We’re being invaded. By the goddamned top brass.|
|London Blues 296: He’d been one of the top brass in the Metropolitan Police in the sixties.|
|Remorseful Day (2000) 157: When the top brass had finally dispersed.|
2. (orig. US) in business or industry, the highest executive manager; also as adj.
|N.Y. Herald Trib. 21 Sept. IV 1/1: What frosts us is that this is happening just when it is positively sensational, clientwise, especially with the top brass.|
|Flesh Peddlers (1964) 21: I’m not top brass.|
|(con. 1930s) Men of the Milford Road 53: I [...] saw Joe the driver with his arm half round the neck of one of those top-brass engineers and talking to him in a very animated manner.|
|Guardian Rev. 16 July 4: Kubrick got the top brass, on whose financial support he relied, to come to London.|
|Indep. 10 Jan. 9: The BBC’s top brass already endures periodic public bashings.|
|Scrublands [ebook] ‘[T]he top brass throwing him to the wolves, making him the scapegoat. Career over.’.|
3. a leader, chief, someone or something of importance; also as adj.
|Big Rumble 148: You’re top brass, Claw.|
|Tintin and the Picaros 52: So you’re the top brass for these boozy brigands!|
|Soft Detective 47: I’ve realized my murder’s a top-brass affair. The victim’s famous. He won a Nobel Prize.|
|Indep. Rev. 26 Feb. 9: The top brass [...] may be quitting.|
(orig. US black) the leader of a group, esp. of a clique of down-and-outs.
|West Side Story I i: When you’re a Jet, / You’re the top cat in town, / You’re the gold-metal kid / With the heavyweight crown!|
|(con. 1969–70) F.N.G. (1988) 277: Here we are, muthafucker, the top cats without no top hats.|
|The Joy (2015) [ebook] I’m on me way down to the top cat on our landing to see would he put a word in with the screws.|
|Guardian Rev. 26 Feb. 8: It’s easier to be the straight man than the top cat.|
(N.Z.) a sense of perspective, the act of self-control.
|On the Anzac Trail 104: At this they seemed to lose their top covering altogether, and, being armed with revolvers, opened fire on the crowd.|
(Aus.) the head.
|Popular Dict. Aus. Sl.|
1. a lecher, a womanizer.
|Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Top-diver a Lover of Women. An old Top-diver, one that has Lov’d Old-hat in his time.|
|New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].|
|, , ,||Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].|
|Life and Adventures.|
|, ,||Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Top diver, A lover of women. An old top diver; one who has loved old hat in his time.|
|Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1785].|
|Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.|
|Vocabulum 91: top-diver a roué.|
2. (US gay) a lesbian.
|Queens’ Vernacular 139: cunnilinctrice, [...] top-diver (Brit gay sl.).|
1. a dominant figure, usu. in an institution – the boss, a senior member of an organization, a leader; as v. to do well.
|Illus. Police News 23 Oct. 5/1: In the end, did not John Bull come out ‘top dog,’ fairly, squarely and above board?|
|Bulletin (Sydney) 7 Apr. 24/1: Weeks was palpably top dog up to the end of the sixth round, wherein Patterson suffered grievously, but afterwards his energy faded.|
|Hull Dly Mail 13 Apr. 4/6: The home lot [i.e. of footballers] were top dog in scrimmaging power.|
|Eng. Rev. June n.p.: In the duel between painter and super-goose, it is the super-goose who comes out top dog.|
|On the Anzac Trail 201: After a time we got top-dog in the bombing line. Our system was a simple one : for every bomb the enemy threw into us we gave him at least two in return.|
|Ulysses 300: So the wife comes out top dog, what? – Well, that’s a point, says Bloom, for the wife’s admirers. – Whose admirers? says Joe. – The wife’s advisers, I mean, says Bloom.|
|Nor the Years Condemn 283: What is he? Rich joker, doing a bit of slumming, or just another creeping Jesus without the dog collar? Or does he think he’s top dog?|
|Dreiser-Mencken Letters II (1986) 697: Who is the top dog in there?letter 25 Nov. in Riggio|
|One Lonely Night 56: Sure, it’s great to be a Commie . . . as long as you’re top dog.|
|Scene (1996) 115: Give us [...] the big who’s dealing directly with The man next to the Top Dog.|
|Black Players 225: The boss player [...] really believes that he is destined to be a ‘top dog.’.|
|Muscle for the Wing 147: And we’d be top dogs [...] I remember when we dreamed that trash.|
|Powder 7: There’d been a great rapport between the bands, an atmosphere of shared destiny, with the Grams the unspoken topdogs.|
|Indep. Rev. 29 Feb. 4: One top-dog who will not be part of the new venture is the millionaire human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson.|
|Portable Promised Land (ms.) 38: Back durin them two months Sugar Lips was top dog.|
|Lives Laid Away [ebook] ‘Teacher friend of mine says he’s top-doggin’ it’.|
2. attrib. use of sense 1.
|Two Faces of January (1988) 58: Rydal Keener had a cocky, top-dog manner.|
|Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era.|
1. the hair.
|Poems 18: The coarseness of thy tresses is distressing, / With grease and raddle firmly coalescing, / I cannot laud thy system of ‘top-dressing.’.‘To a Black Gin’|
2. (N.Z.) deception.
|[||Aus. Sl. Dict. 87: Top-dressing, in journalism, is the large type introduction to a report].|
|Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. 215: topdressing Deception, usually in surface presentation, from the fruiterer’s habit of putting the best fruit on top. Mid C20.|
(Aus.) northern Australia; thus top-ender, topsider, one who lives there.
|Bulletin (Sydney) 8 Dec. 14/1: The appointment of a Bishop for Nor’-West Australia recalls the story told of the first cleric sent up to the Top End.|
|Chron. (Adelaide) 24 Mar. 43/3: [Nicknames] [f]or people in the Northern Territory, Territorians, topenders.|
|I Travelled a Lonely Land (1957) 135: He’s [i.e. an Aborigine] good with stock [...] and the cattlemen at The Top need him. Let the Topsiders take over the whole abo problem is what I say.|
|Only a Short Walk 29: Any ‘Top-Ender’ who wanted an hotel booking, a tip for the races [...] could wire A.B. McCabe.|
|Aussie Swearers Guide 70: Top Ender. Anyone from Northern Territory.|
|Lingo 30: The top half or top end, referring to that part of Australia roughly north of the Tropic of Capricorn, is widely believed by most other Australians to be ‘the last frontier.’.|
|Dead Point (2008) [ebook] Sometimes they come back in a tramp steamer, [...] fucking hang glider, land in Broome, Top End, Tassie.|
|Old Scores [ebook] Of his two brothers still alive, one was jailed in Victoria and the other was a career soldier, stationed in the Top End.|
(Aus. teen) the leading member of a sharpie n.2 gang.
|(con. 1960s-70s) Top Fellas 21/1: The scene’s killer-elite were known as ‘Top fellas’.|
|‘Jiver’s Bible’ in Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive.|
see separate entry.
(US) the head, the brain.
|N.Y. Eve. Mail 21 Sept. in Unforgettable Season (1981) 235: Only once did Merkle show fog in his top hamper.|
|Benno and Some of the Push 58: The high-heeled boots she affected accentuated the apparent precipitation of Dolly’s top-hamper.‘The Fickle Dolly Hopgood’ in|
(UK Und.) a detective.
|Sharpe of the Flying Squad 209: One of the gang was heard to say: ‘It’s no good here, boys, there are too many top-hats’ (detectives).|
see separate entry.
(orig. US) the boss, the head of a group, whether legal or criminal; spec. a US army first sergeant.
|One Man’s War (1928) 129: I met our old top-kick Heinie on the Paris-Metz road.diary 30 June–5 July in|
|What Outfit, Buddy? 43: Along came Bill o’Rourke, actin’ top-kicker.|
|(con. 1914–18) Three Lights from a Match 213: Pap’ Comerford, that used to be my top kick, was the best argufier I ever see.|
|Knights of the Cockpit 37: The hardboiled top kick smiled gamely.|
|‘C.C.C. Chatter’ in AS XV:2 Apr. 211/1: Instead of sergeants, a civilian corps has barrack leaders, and in place of corporals, assistant leaders; the top kick of the army is known as senior leader.|
|G.I. Laughs 211: First sergeants, who got to be called ‘top-kicks.’.|
|Mad mag. Aug.–Sept. 25: Who [...] was he getting his combat pay from at the time Braddock was his top-kick?|
|(con. 1917–18) Make the Kaiser Dance 239: ‘Oh Christ,’ answered the top kick.|
|About Face (1991) 61: ‘I can always use another sergeant,’ this giant of a topkick roared.|
|Alphaville (2011) 276: Our new Op 8 topkick had just dropped us off.|
see separate entry.
see separate entries.
1. a leading villain.
|Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Dimber damber, a top man, or prince among the canting crew, also the chief rogue of the gang, or the completest cheat, (cant).|
|Red Wind (1946) 169: She and her top man went to see Peeler where he lived.‘Goldfish’ in|
|(con. 1900–30) East End Und. 284: Top man – Underworld king.in Samuel|
2. a police superintendent.
|(con. 1910) East End Und. 123: He was a police informer – he knew all the top men and it was a top man at the Yard that told me about him.in Samuel|
3. the dominant partner in a homosexual (sado-masochistic) couple.
|Sex in Prison 59: They are of the passive type, known variously as ‘punks,’ ‘girls,’ ‘fags,’ ‘pansies,’ or ‘fairies,’ as distinguished from the inmates who take advantage of their favors, that is the active participants. These are known in prison slang as ‘top men’ or ‘wolves.’.|
|Sex in Prison 94: The terms ‘wolf,’ ‘jocker,’ and ‘top-men’ are recognized by staff and inmates as describing aggressive homosexuals.|
|Rushes (1981) 26: The dark-print handkerchief displayed like a banner in his back pocket, the heavy ring of keys, the tiny silver earring — all worn on his left side — proclaim his role as a dominant man in ‘heavy sex,’ a good ‘top-man,’ one of the best.|
|Gay (S)language 43: Top Man — active partner in anal intercourse.|
4. (N.Z. prison) a $100 note; $100.
|Boobslang [U. Canterbury D.Phil. thesis] 192/1: top man n. a $100 note; $100.|
5. see under top v.3
(Anglo-Irish) an important person.
|Ulysses 90: O yes, we’ll have all the topnobbers. J. C. Doyle and John MacCormack I hope and. The best in fact.|
(N.Z. prison) a high-ranking prison official.
|Boobslang [U. Canterbury D.Phil. thesis] 192/1: top notch n. the Officer in Charge, or other high-ranking prison official, e.g. the Site Manager.|
(US black) a preferred love object.
|N.Y. Age 20 Mar. 7/1: Willie Freeman is making Theda Showell his top number.‘Truckin ’round Brooklyn’ in|
see oil n. (2c)
1. a hat.
|Golden Age (Queenbeyan, NSW) 21 Aug. 2/6: [He] informs Coping that ‘Tyro [...] would spin round like an 'old hat;’ [...] But between ourselves we rather suspect that if Centaur or Coping were called upon to demonstrate the circular velocity of the ancient top-piece, before quoted, they would be rather nonplussed.|
|Night Side of N.Y. 47: Shure, its not the like of me that would wear the koverin’ of such a lively head as the top piece of that impudent hussy.|
|Barkeep Stories 10: ‘He has long hair an’ a screwy silk top-piece’.|
|John Henry 89: I didn’t know whether to puff up and get chesty, or hustle for my coat and my top-piece and go home.|
|Shorty McCabe 149: I makes him chuck the linen for a sweater; but I couldn’t separate him from the shiny top piece.|
|Silk Hat Harry’s Divorce Suit 3 June [synd. cartoon strip] Darn it there goes my kelly. Whoa!!! I can’t go to court minus my top piece.|
|Roman Hat Mystery 205: You’re looking for a hat – a nice shiny top-piece such as the swells wear.|
2. (also top storey) the head, the brain.
|Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 4 Mar. 2/3: Romeo with a billiard ball top-piece isn't a charming spectacle for Juliet to gaze down on from her balcony.|
|Dead Bird (Sydney) 18 Dec. 1/2: What is a kiss? A kiss is a question asked at the top storey.|
|Eve. Star (Wash., DC) 14 Dec. 23/2: Australian English [...] A head is a ‘top-piece’.|
|Bulletin (Sydney) 6 Sept. 14/4: The large, pink, balcony hat was a furnishing to the tricky top-storey.|
|More Ex-Tank Tales 45: The hunch flashed into my top-piece.|
|Sun. Times (Perth) 31 Jan. 4/6: His valedictory letter [...] suggests that he is slightly gone in the top storey.|
|Sun. Times (Perth, WA) Supp. 19 Dec. 25: You’ll beat Snowball’s top-piece off.|
|Bulletin (Sydney) 3 Oct. 47/1: It took an afternoon of surf-bathing to clear my top-piece, and about 5 p.m. I met Maroney.|
|Judge Rummy’s Court 5 Feb. [synd. strip cartoon] Judge my old top piece ain’t been right since I had shell shock. I’m a dumb-bell.|
|Kangaroo 365: They’ve got more greedy brains in the seats of their pants than in their top storeys.|
|Morn. Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld) 12 Sept. 6/3: I don’t think I’m quite right in the top storey.|
|N.Y. Amsterdam News 29 Jan. 19/1: Yank in your top-piece, neighbor mine.|
|Argot: Dict. of Und. Sl. 52: top story – head.|
|Gang War 201: You is ’igh up in the C.I.D., and as everybody knows the best flamin’ top-piece as they’ve got in the ’ole works.|
|(con. 1936–46) Winged Seeds (1984) 32: Some of us old battlers’ve got a bit stiff in the joints and rusty in the top piece.|
|Mad Cows 226: The second sign that she was loose in her top storey.|
|(con. 1940s–60s) Straight from the Fridge Dad 170: Smart up in the top storey Intelligent.|
(later use Aus.) stylish, extravagant lifestyle; also as adv.; thus carry (on) top ropes/sway away on all top ropes, to live in a self-indulgent or hedonistic manner.
|Lex. Balatronicum n.p.: To sway away on all top ropes; to live riotously or extravagantly.|
|Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue [as cit. 1811].|
|Vocabulum 91: top-ropes Extravagant or riotous living.|
|‘’Arry on the Road’ in Punch 9 Aug. 83/1: It’s fun and good form all in one like, and when sech top-ropes yer can carry, / Who cares if it does come expensive?|
|Sl. Dict. (1890) 36: Top-ropes. Extravagant or riotous living.|
|‘’Arry on a ’ouseboat’ in Punch 15 Aug. 77/1: While top-ropes I can carry, / It ain’t no soap-board slop about ‘Quiet’ will put the kibosh on ’arry.|
|Truth (Sydney) 26 May 5/4: I never told Mr Robert Greathead that Mrs Seymour was carrying on top ropes.|
|Bulletin (Sydney) 23 June 32/1: Well, she fancied another man – haristocratic kinder bloke: white shirt an’ studs, and all that sorter thing. They got married, and carried on top-ropes for a bit. Then he lost his billet and took to drink, and they got down until they were as low as get out.|
|Bulletin (Sydney) 18 Jan. 35/2: After that my mate and I used to carry on top-ropes, and people wondered why we were allowed to.|
see separate entries.
see separate entry.
see separate entry.
(gay) a masculine lesbian.
|N.Y. Amsterdam News 29 Apr. 20: Speaking of ‘Top Sergeant’ [...] they are growing bolder and more numerous daily [and] the ‘Capons’ from the Village and Park Avenue are making Harlem a stamping ground [ibid.] 20 May 20: Why are the Top Sergeants so bold these days and why don’t the husbands object?|
|Sex Variants.‘Lang. of Homosexuality’ Appendix VII in Henry|
|AS XXXII:4 279: top sergeant. A Lesbian.‘Vernacular of the Jazz World’ in|
|Homosexual Generation Ch. xvi: A Pimp: She does not work and is supported by the earnings of other female prostitutes. She is a jockey or top sergeant. She dresses like a man and although she is white, she often prefers to live with a colored girl.|
a woman’s breasts.
|Start in Life (1979) 89: She came up behind and pressed her topwork into my back.|
|www.bbfans.co.uk 22 Aug. 🌐 I think Liisi is teasing us, I don’t think she has any intentions of flopping her top set out.|
drunk, fuddled, confused in the head.
|Woman is a Weathercock III ii: O good old woman she is top-shackled. She’ll be as drunk as a porter.|
see separate entries.
see separate entry.
see separate entries.
see top piece
see thatch n. (1)
(Aus.) an overcoat.
|Aus. Sl. Dict. 87: Top-tog, an overcoat.|
a woman’s breasts.
|Bang To Rights 176: Er look at that sort down the front there she aint arf got some top ’uns.|
see separate entries.
a senior or most favoured prostitute among a group working for a given pimp.
|Hustling 113: Intimidated, his top woman must either match them or recruit even fresher talent to supplement her own earnings.|
|Patterns of Exposition 168: Top woman in this ‘family’ – the pimp’s favorite, who brings in the most money — is called his ‘wife.’ The rest are known as ‘wife-in-laws.’.|
see top set
(Aus.) mad, eccentric.
|(con. WWI) Soldier and Sailor Words 288: Top Traverse, Off One’s: Off one’s head. Acting crazily.|
to be mad, highly eccentric.
|Manchester Courier 1 Feb. 6/7: To be ‘barmy (on the crumpet)’ or ‘a bit off the top’ are the most generally known phrases [for eccentricity]; ‘not to have all one’s chairs at home’ is [...] often heard in Lancashire.|
1. discovered, unmasked, found out; usu. as come on top.
|Sir, You Bastard 7: His earner had come on top.|
|A Prisoner’s Tale 16: He would have taken his nicking had he really been involved in the blag and it had come on top.|
|Layer Cake 114: If it comes on top they’ll be screamin that they’re political prisoners and all that shite.|
|Urban Grimshaw viii: On top: The Babylon or its agents are upon us. [Ibid.] ‘Sparky! [...] It’s on top! Let’s nash.’.|
|Raiders 230: They [...] had some nice little touches before it all came on top for them.|
|Viva La Madness 54: Didn’t wanna go to Jamaica cos it’s on top at the airport.|
|Hitmen 245: ‘I’m doing the job, the police are on top, I’m [...] shootin’ the police as well’.|
2. used of a situation that has escalated beyond control.
|theculturetrip.com ‘Guide to London Slang 10 Jan. 🌐 On top – when a situation goes absolutely crazy.|