1. ranked among the highest, as in ability, performance, comprehensiveness, or quality: His work is tops. That car is tops.


  1. at a maximum; at most: It’ll take an hour, tops. I’ll give you $25 for that, tops.


  1. the tops. top1(def 22).


  1. the highest or loftiest point or part of anything; apex; summit.
  2. the uppermost or upper part, surface, etc., of anything.
  3. the higher end of anything on a slope.
  4. British.
    1. a part considered as higher: the top of the street.
    2. high gear of an automobile.
  5. tops,
    1. the part of a plant that grows above ground, especially of an edible root.
    2. one of the tender tips of the branches or shoots of plants.
  6. the part of anything that is first or foremost; beginning: Let’s go over it from the top again.
  7. the highest or leading place, position, rank, etc.: at the top of the class.
  8. the highest point, pitch, or degree: to talk at the top of one’s voice.
  9. a person or thing that occupies the highest or leading position.
  10. the best or choicest part: the top of all creation.
  11. a covering or lid, as of a container or vehicle.
  12. the head.
  13. any of various outer garments for the upper body, as a blouse, shirt, or sweater: a sale on cotton tops and shorts.
  14. Nautical. a platform surrounding the head of a lower mast on a ship, and serving as a foothold, a means of extending the upper rigging, etc.
  15. Chemistry. the part of a mixture under distillation that volatilizes first.
  16. Bridge.
    1. the best card of a suit in a player’s hand.
    2. (in duplicate bridge) the best score on a hand.
  17. Sports.
    1. a stroke that hits the ball above its center.
    2. the forward spin given to the ball by such a stroke.
  18. Baseball.
    1. the first half of an inning.
    2. the first three batters in the batting order.
  19. Slang. the dominant partner in a sexual relationship or encounter, especially the penetrator in anal intercourse (opposed to bottom).
  20. Textiles.
    1. a cluster of textile fibers, especially tow, put on a distaff.
    2. a strand of the long wool fibers in sliver form, separated from noil by combing and wound into a large ball.
    3. a similar strand of rayon.
  21. Jewelry. crown(def 27).
  22. the tops, Informal. the most outstanding person or thing in ability, favor, etc.: As a friend, she’s the tops.


  1. pertaining to, situated at, or forming the top; highest; uppermost; upper: the top shelf.
  2. highest in degree; greatest: to pay top prices.
  3. foremost, chief, or principal: to win top honors in a competition.

verb (used with object), topped, top·ping.

  1. to furnish with a top; put a top on.
  2. to be at or constitute the top of.
  3. to reach the top of.
  4. to rise above: The sun had topped the horizon.
  5. to exceed in height, amount, number, etc.
  6. to surpass, excel, or outdo: That tops everything.
  7. Theater. (in spoken dialogue) to reply in a voice of greater volume or higher pitch: King Henry must top the crowd noises in his St. Crispin’s Day speech.
  8. to surmount with something specified: to top a sundae with whipped cream.
  9. to remove the top of; crop; prune: to top a tall tree.
  10. to get or leap over the top of (a fence, barrier, etc.).
  11. Chemistry. to distill off only the most volatile part of (a mixture).
  12. Sports.
    1. to strike (the ball) above its center, giving it a forward spin.
    2. to make (a stroke) by hitting the ball in this manner.
  13. to top-dress (land).
  14. Obsolete. to have coitus with (a woman).

verb (used without object), topped, top·ping.

  1. to rise aloft.

Verb Phrases

  1. top off,
    1. to climax or complete, especially in an exceptional manner; finish: They topped off the evening with a ferryboat ride at midnight.
    2. to fill (a partly full container) completely: to top off a gas tank.
  2. top out,
    1. to finish the top of (a structure).
    2. to reach the highest level.
  1. blow one’s top, Informal.
    1. to become enraged; lose one’s temper.
    2. to go mad; become insane: He must have blown his top to make such a fool of himself.
  2. off the top of one’s head, Informal. head(def 78).
  3. on top, successful; victorious; dominant: to stay on top.
  4. on top of,
    1. over or upon.
    2. in addition to; over and above.
    3. close upon; following upon: Gale winds came on top of the floods.
    4. in complete control: on top of the problem.
  5. on top of the world,
    1. successful.
    2. elated: The success made her feel on top of the world.
  6. over the top,
    1. Military.over the top of the parapet before a trench, as in issuing to charge against the enemy.
    2. surpassing a goal, quota, or limit.
    3. beyond normal limits; outrageously extreme or excessive: His humor is so over the top that it’s embarrassing.
  7. top oneself, Chiefly British. to kill oneself.


  1. a toy, often inversely conical, with a point on which it is made to spin.
  1. sleep like a top, to sleep soundly: After a day of hiking and swimming we slept like tops.


  1. a person or thing of top quality


  1. (postpositive) excellent; superb


  1. the highest or uppermost part of anythingthe top of a hill
  2. the most important or successful positionto be at the top of the class; the top of the table
  3. the part of a plant that is above groundcarrot tops
  4. a thing that forms or covers the uppermost part of anything, esp a lid or capput the top on the saucepan
  5. the highest degree or pointat the top of his career
  6. the most important personhe’s the top of this organization
  7. the best or finest part of anythingwe’ve got the top of this year’s graduates
  8. the loudest or highest pitch (esp in the phrase top of one’s voice)
  9. the beginningthe top of the hour; at the top of the programme
  10. short for top gear
  11. cards the highest card of a suit in a player’s hand
  12. sport
    1. a stroke that hits the ball above its centre
    2. short for topspin
  13. a platform around the head of a lower mast of a sailing vessel, the edges of which serve to extend the topmast shrouds
  14. chem the part of a volatile liquid mixture that distils first
  15. a garment, esp for a woman, that extends from the shoulders to the waist or hips
    1. the high-frequency content of an audio signal
    2. (as modifier)this amplifier has a good top response
  16. blow one’s top informal to lose one’s temper
  17. on top of
    1. in addition toon top of his accident, he caught pneumonia
    2. informalin complete control of (a difficult situation, job, etc)
  18. off the top of one’s head with no previous preparation; extempore
  19. over the top
    1. over the parapet or leading edge of a trench
    2. over the limit; excessive(ly); lacking restraint or a sense of proportion
  20. the top of the morning a morning greeting regarded as characteristic of Irishmen


  1. of, relating to, serving as, or situated on the topthe top book in a pile
  2. British informal excellenta top night out

verb tops, topping or topped (mainly tr)

  1. to form a top on (something)to top a cake with whipped cream
  2. to remove the top of or fromto top carrots
  3. to reach or pass the top ofwe topped the mountain
  4. to be at the top ofhe tops the team
  5. to exceed or surpass
  6. slang to kill
  7. (also intr) sport
    1. to hit (a ball) above the centre
    2. to make (a stroke) by hitting the ball in this way
  8. chem to distil off (the most volatile part) from a liquid mixture
  9. to add other colorants to (a dye) in order to modify the shade produced
  10. top and tail
    1. to trim off the ends of (fruit or vegetables) before cooking them
    2. to wash a baby’s face and bottom without immersion in a bath


  1. a toy that is spun on its pointed base by a flick of the fingers, by pushing a handle at the top up and down, etc
  2. anything that spins or whirls around
  3. sleep like a top to sleep very soundly

“the best,” 1935, from top (n.1).


“highest point,” Old English top “summit, crest, tuft,” from Proto-Germanic *tuppaz (cf. Old Norse toppr “tuft of hair,” Old Frisian top “tuft,” Old Dutch topp, Dutch top, Old High German zopf “end, tip, tuft of hair,” German Zopf “tuft of hair”); no certain connections outside Germanic except a few Romanic words probably borrowed from Germanic.

Few Indo-European languages have a word so generic, which can be used of the upper part or surface of just about anything. More typical is German, which has Spitze for sharp peaks (mountains), oberfläche for the upper surface of flat things (such as a table). Top dog first attested 1900; top-drawer (1920) is from British expression out of the top drawer “upper-class.”


“toy that spins on a point,” late Old English top, probably a special use of top (n.1), but the modern word is perhaps via Old French topet, which is from a Germanic source akin to the root of English top (n.1). As a type of seashell, first recorded 1680s.


“put a top on,” 1580s, from top (n.1). The meaning “be higher or greater than” also is first recorded 1580s. Related: Topped; topping. To top off “finish” is colloquial from 1836;

In addition to the idioms beginning with top

  • top banana
  • top brass
  • top dog
  • top dollar
  • top drawer
  • top off
  • top out
  • top to toe

also see:

  • at the top of one’s lungs
  • big top
  • blow one’s top
  • brass hat (top brass)
  • from head to toe (top to toe)
  • off the top of one’s head
  • on top
  • on top of
  • on top of the world
  • over the top
  • sleep like a log (top)
  • thin on top
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