Green’s Dictionary of Slang

top adj.

1. [1920s+] excellent, first-rate.

2. [1960s] extreme.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

top... (n.)

see also under relevant n.

top banana (n.) [show business top banana, the leading comic in a burlesque show]

[1950s+] (orig. US) the chief, the boss, the president.

top brass (n.) [brass n.1 (3a)]

1. [1940s+] (orig. US) in the services or the police, the most senior officers.

2. [1950s+] (orig. US) in business or industry, the highest executive manager; also as adj.

3. [1960s+] a leader, chief, someone or something of importance; also as adj.

top cat (n.)

[1950s+] (orig. US black) the leader of a group, esp. of a clique of down-and-outs.

top covering (n.)

[1910s] (N.Z.) a sense of perspective, the act of self-control.

top deck (n.)

[1920s+] (Aus.) the head.

top diver (n.) [SE dive on top (of)]

1. [late 17C–early 19C] a lecher, a womanizer.

2. [1970s+] (US gay) a lesbian.

top dog (n.) (also topdog)

1. [late 19C+] a dominant figure, usu. in an institution – the boss, a senior member of an organization, a leader.

2. attrib. use of sense 1.

top drawing-room (n.)

[late 19C–1900s] a garret.

top dressing (n.)

1. [19C] the hair.

2. [2000s] (N.Z.) deception.

top end (n.) (also top, top half)

[1910s+] (Aus.) northern Australia; thus top-ender, topsider, one who lives there.

top flat (n.)

[late 19C; 1940s] the head.

top floor (n.)

see separate entry.

top hamper (n.)

[1900s] (US) the head, the brain.

top hat (n.) [? their 19C attire]

[1930s] (UK Und.) a detective.

top-hole (adj.)

see separate entry.

top kick (n.) (also top kicker)

[1910s–40s] (orig. US) the boss, the head of a group, whether legal or criminal; spec. a US army first sergeant.

toplights (n.)

see separate entry.


see separate entries.

top man (n.)

1. [late 18C+] a leading villain.

2. [late 19C+] a police superintendent.

3. [1930s+] the dominant partner in a homosexual (sado-masochistic) couple.

4. see under top v.3

topnobber (n.) [SE top + nob n.2 (1)]

[1900s–20s] (Anglo-Irish) an important person.

top piece (n.)

1. [mid-19C–1920s] a hat.

2. [mid-19C+] (also top storey) the head, the brain.

top-ropes (n.)

[19C–1900s] (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.


see separate entries.

top-rung (adj.)

see separate entry.

top sawyer (n.)

see separate entry.

top sergeant (n.) [‘she takes command of the girls’ privates’]

[1940s–70s] (gay) a masculine lesbian.

top set (n.) (also topwork)

[1970s+] a woman’s breasts.

top-shackled (adj.)

[early 17C] drunk, fuddled, confused in the head.

top shelf(er)

see separate entries.

top shot (n.)

see separate entry.

top side(r)

see separate entries.

top ’uns (n.)

[1940s–50s] a woman’s breasts.

top whack

see separate entries.

top woman (n.)

[1940s+] a senior or most favoured prostitute among a group working for a given pimp.

In phrases

off one’s top traverse (adj.)

[20C+] (Aus.) mad, eccentric.

bit off the top, be a (v.)

to be mad, highly eccentric.

on top

1. [1970s+] discovered, unmasked, found out; usu. as come on top.

2. [2010s] used of a situation that has escalated beyond control.