There are 4 main definitions of top in English:

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top 1

Pronunciation: /tɒp/


1 [usually in singular] The highest or uppermost point, part, or surface of something: Doreen stood at the top of the stairs fill the cup almost to the top [in combination]: the springy turf of the clifftop
More example sentences
  • I feel a few gentle taps on the top of my head, and look up to see a man looking down at me.
  • The redhead was more composed, sitting cross-legged in a way that only just allowed the kilt to cover the tops of her thighs, hands in her lap to prevent me getting a better view.
  • He tugged his hat down, covering the tops of his ears and his eyebrows.
summit, peak, pinnacle, crest, crown, brow, brink, ridge, head, highest point/part, mountaintop, tip, apex, vertex, acme, apogee
upper part, upper surface, upper layer
1.1 (usually tops) The leaves, stems, and shoots of a plant, especially those of a vegetable grown for its root: some growers snip off the carrot’s green tops in the field
More example sentences
  • Be sure to pinch back the flowering tops of basil plants to keep them from going to seed too early in the season.
  • Marijuana or marihuana is a drug obtained from the flowering tops, stems, and leaves of the hemp plant (cannabis sativa).
  • When the tops of the carrots grow thicker, thin them to about two to three inches apart.
1.2chiefly British The uppermost creamy layer of milk.
Example sentences
  • Not only did I detest the smell, the skin that formed on the top of the milk almost made me physically sick.
  • Use a large spoon or dipper to take the cream from the top of the milk.
  • For my brother and me there was no greater treat than the top of the milk on our breakfast porridge.
2A thing or part placed on, fitted to, or covering the upper part of something, in particular:
2.1A garment covering the upper part of the body and worn with a skirt, trousers, or shorts: he was wearing a hooded top she bought a couple of new tops
More example sentences
  • They were both wearing short skirts and halter tops.
  • Every body shape imaginable was squeezed into super short skirts and super tight tops with plunging necklines.
  • Jersey makes a big comeback this season in tops, skirts and trousers.
2.2A lid, cover, or cap: beer-bottle tops
More example sentences
  • Beer bottle tops will do nicely, if you can't bring yourself to use your Royal College cuff links or the earrings you bought on your most recent trip to Monte Carlo.
  • Stopper corks with plastic tops are used for some wines, particularly fortified wines and some sweet wines, a single bottle of which may be consumed over an extended period.
  • He opened his own can with a hiss of escaping gas as Crystal removed the top of her water bottle.
2.3(In a sailing ship) a platform around the head of each of the lower masts, serving to extend the topmast rigging.
Example sentences
  • Above is another fifty feet of climbing, as the shrouds (ropes) which are attached to the top narrow down to the point where there is no longer room for your foot unless you turn it sideways.
3 (the top) The highest or most important rank, level, or position: her talent will take her right to the top the people at the top must be competent
More example sentences
  • This triumph leaves them in a comfortable position at the top of the table.
  • It's a school in an area of boarded-up houses and it doesn't rank at the top of national league tables.
  • The prospect of mass tourism ranks at the top of her list of nightmares.
3.1The utmost degree or the highest level: she shouted at the top of her voice
More example sentences
  • The Officer shouted at the top of his voice: ‘One.Two.Three.’
  • I surf every day and need to be at the top of my fitness to face the challenge of big waves.
highest level, utmost extent
3.2 (tops) informal A person or thing regarded as particularly good: professionally you’re the tops
More example sentences
  • Results from Vodafone's mobile phone recycling scheme show that Sligo and Cork are tops when it comes to mobile phone recycling.
  • Cork Harlequins are rated tops in the country for they have a sweet balance of skill and power in their team.
3.3British The highest gear of a motor vehicle: long gradients can be surmounted in top
More example sentences
  • You're already in top, on the highway doing 70, and the engine sounds as if it needs another gear, so you try to change up but you're already in top!
  • Be brave and you'll be able to come to a stop in top, dipping the clutch just before stopping.
3.4 [mass noun] The high-frequency component of reproduced sound.
Example sentences
  • It shows you how to use the bass, mid and top when mixing.
4chiefly British The end of something that is furthest from the speaker or a point of reference: the bus shelter at the top of the road
More example sentences
  • I looked up towards the top of the road and saw a silver Mercedes haring down.
  • Even worse, because it is a wide pavement they will use this and drive straight up to the top of the road irrespective of pedestrians.
  • Apparently someone out there beyond the top of Morningside Road wants to demutualise the whole thing.
5 short for topspin.
Example sentences
  • For some players that can manage a fast swing speed, put top on the ball, and have it land in, they may not be overhitting.
  • Flat returns were a little harder for me with all the power, but if I put a little extra ‘top’ on the ball it felt fine.
6 (usually tops) A bundle of long wool fibres prepared for spinning.
Example sentences
  • She started off with wool tops in sliver form.
  • Dyed merino tops are perfect for hand spinning and felting projects.
  • Wensleydale top is the ultimate in luxurious spinning fibres.
7 [mass noun] Physics One of six flavours of quark.
Example sentences
  • Physicists had known that the top must exist since 1977, when its partner, the bottom, was discovered. But the top proved exasperatingly hard to find.


1Highest in position, rank, or degree: the top button of his shirt a top executive
More example sentences
  • Early release is being re-examined by the Executive as a top priority.
  • The county's ambulance service has been ranked among the top performers in the speed of its response to patients.
  • Those in top positions tend to fear that statements made on television on the spur of the moment may land them in the dock.
informal top-notch
chief, principal, main, leading, highest, high, high-ranking, ruling, commanding;
most powerful, most important, prominent, eminent, notable, illustrious
prime, excellent, superb, superior, choice, select, elite, quality, top-quality, top-grade, first-rate, first-class, top-class, high-grade, grade A, best, finest, premier, choicest, superlative, unsurpassed, unexcelled, unparalleled, peerless, second to none;
British  top of the range;
chiefly US  top of the line
informal A1, top-notch, ace, crack
maximum, maximal, greatest, topmost, utmost
2chiefly British Furthest away from the speaker or a point of reference: the top end of Fulham Road
More example sentences
  • Although the map shows that a bomb also fell towards the top end of Stapley Road, the map indicates that it was not near a corner or junction.
  • At the top end of the car park you will find our designated parking area.

verb (tops, topping, topped)

[with object]
1Exceed (an amount, level, or number); be more than: losses are expected to top £100 m this year
More example sentences
  • Quarterly figures, published yesterday, show that for the first time, discrimination claims on race grounds topped the number of gender discrimination claims.
  • In the third quarter, the number of unemployed topped the record level of 1991, when huge numbers of immigrants from the former Soviet Union came to Israel.
  • With the way the economy is going now, we hope to top those numbers but that remains to be seen.
exceed, surpass, go beyond, transcend, better, best, beat, defeat, excel, outstrip, outdo, outshine, eclipse, surmount, improve on, go one better than, cap, trump, trounce
1.1Be at the highest place or rank in (a list, poll, or league): her debut album topped the charts for five weeks
More example sentences
  • Recent mainstream media polls show issues such as health and rural matters topping the list of public concerns about the performance of the government.
  • Quitting smoking tops the wish list for New Year resolutions and Swindon Primary Care Trust is working hard to help people turn their smoke-free dreams into a reality.
  • He was elected an alderman of Limerick City Council in the 1999 local elections when he topped the poll with over 900 votes in Ward 3.
lead, head, be first in, be at the top of
1.2Be taller than: he topped her by several inches
More example sentences
  • Cyril was a tall man, easily topping Johen's height by a head or more, and he had passed that height on to his son Martin.
1.3Surpass (a person or previous achievement); outdo: he was baffled as to how he could top his past work
More example sentences
  • There are some examples of child actors who manage to stay in movies as adults, sometimes even topping their early achievements.
  • Jim of Automotive News narrowly topped Anthony Rowley of the Singapore Business Times in a close race.
  • The question of how Rafa Benitez can ever top this achievement can be left for another day.
1.4Appear as the chief performer or attraction at: Hopper topped a great night of boxing
More example sentences
  • While Ignatov topped the show, perhaps Airjazz stole it.
  • Sting, who is to receive an honour for his outstanding contribution to music, will top the show, which is to be presented by a male-female double-act for the first time since 1990.
  • Veteran rockers Queen, along with Razorlight and Simple Minds, will top the entertainment line-up.
2Provide with a top or topping: toast topped with baked beans
More example sentences
  • Tomorrow, that brick wall might be topped with razor wire, and those privacy screens might all be made illegal in the name of National Security.
  • Some changes are small: in some schools, pizza is now topped with low-fat cheese and French fries are baked, not fried.
  • Down the driveway, high electronic gates protect the building and the pale grey walls are topped with rolled razor wire.
cover, cap, crown, coat, overspread, finish, garnish
2.1Complete (an outfit) with an upper garment, hat, or item of jewellery: a white dress topped by a dark cardigan
More example sentences
  • His snowy white shirt was topped by a burgundy waistcoat which, amazingly enough, matched her gown almost perfectly, and he wore a black cravat around his neck.
  • Elegantly styled trousers are topped by a sporty leather jacket.
  • Croatian men wear white shirts topped with a colored vest or jacket.
2.2Remove the top of (a vegetable or fruit) in preparation for cooking: I use the sharp edge of an old butcher’s knife for topping and the back of the blade for cleaning the roots
More example sentences
  • I had my first jobs when I was in kindergarten picking apples, topping onions and catching cabbage butterflies.
  • Wash and top the radishes.
  • Wash and top the strawberries, then blend until smooth.
3Reach the top of (a hill or other elevation): they topped a rise and began a slow descent
More example sentences
  • We topped a hill, and another, until we were on a steep north-facing slope that dropped off to the Yellowstone River.
  • I was still winning as we topped the hill and headed down.
  • We were doing about 45 miles per hour when we topped that hill and saw a 2-ton truck 30 feet in front of us.
reach the top of, crest, climb, scale, ascend, mount, conquer
4British informal Kill: I wasn’t sorry when he topped himself
More example sentences
  • Al will play a detective who accidentally tops his partner during a murder investigation and is then blackmailed by the killer.
  • ‘I don't know how to say this, other than I think she topped him,’ says a doctor.
  • The killer gets away and Dormer lets the assumption stand that the brutal murderer also topped his partner.
5 Golf Mishit (the ball or a stroke) by hitting above the centre of the ball: he topped his drive on the fifth hole (as adjective topped) sliced and topped shots
More example sentences
  • But when I play even a friendly match with someone else, I end up topping the ball and slicing terribly.
  • The first thing I noted about Chris was his tendency to top the ball.
  • If you're topping or slicing the ball, the problem could be your knees.


(tops) informal
At the most: some civil servant earning twenty-eight thousand a year, tops
More example sentences
  • These are simple enough to prepare in 25 minutes tops, giving busy cooks a welcome break from the kitchen.
  • I slept for maybe three hours tops.



be at the top of one's game

Be performing as well as one can: this film is the work of a director at the top of his game
More example sentences
  • On the acting front, we have three top actors working at the top of their game.
  • Barnes has created a collection of acute observations which shows him to be at the top of his game.
  • All in all a very satisfying live recording of a band at the top of their game.

from top to bottom

Completely; thoroughly: we searched the place from top to bottom
More example sentences
  • She cooks the family meal, cleans the house from top to bottom and completes her homework the day she receives it.
  • The police cordoned off the area, declared a curfew, and searched the place from top to bottom.
  • He now says he wants to review the Department from top to bottom and propose a complete overhaul.
thoroughly, fully, to the fullest extent, extensively, completely, comprehensively, rigorously, exhaustively, scrupulously, meticulously, conscientiously, minutely, in close detail

from top to toe

All over: she seemed to glow from top to toe
More example sentences
  • In fact, feet are just one of the problem areas we'll be looking at in detail, providing help and advice with a health and beauty regime that will work for you, from top to toe.
  • You leave feeling as if every part of your body has been pampered - you're invigorated from top to toe.
  • So, kitted out from top to toe in newly acquired and neatly pressed blue linen, I listened to her praise western civilization and the red-brick building that housed its published works.

from the top

informal From the beginning: they rehearsed Act One from the top
More example sentences
  • Would you like to start again from the top?
  • The audience was right with us from the top.
  • Let's take it again from the top.

get on top of

Be too much for (someone) to bear or cope with: things had got on top of me
More example sentences
  • For almost nine years Jim lashed out at his wife, Sally, whenever things got on top of him.
  • She got over it but during the last three years since then she had other physical illnesses and that seems to have got on top of her and affected her mentally.
  • At the end, frustration with my game was getting on top of me.

off the top of one's head

see head.

on top

1On the highest point or uppermost surface: a woollen hat with a bobble on top
More example sentences
  • At one stage the girls jumped back into the water and actually dragged the boat for 50 yards to rocks with me on top.
  • There are fewer and fewer trees up here, none on top, nothing but rock, and that makes it more attractive to lightning.
  • In the middle there was a tall and slender rock with something black on top.
1.1On the upper part of the head: Graeme’s going a bit thin on top
More example sentences
  • The man has short dark hair which is thinning on top and wore a dark jacket which is possibly imitation leather.
  • He was a tall man, with light brown hair that was thinning on top.
  • Female-pattern baldness usually becomes noticeable after the menopause; the hair on top tends to thin first.
1.2So as to cover; over: she put on a grey raincoat on top
More example sentences
  • All those fabulous summer tank tops you own are good through November with a simple cardigan on top.
  • I had a thin thermal underneath with this jacket on top.
2In a leading or the dominant position: United were on top for most of the first half
More example sentences
  • He can't decide where he stands on the war because he's not really sure which position will put him on top.
  • White men still come out on top, with London dominating the awards.
  • But even if that had happened, the polls suggest that it is unlikely that the anti-war position would have come out on top.
3In addition: the price was £75, with VAT on top
More example sentences
  • If you are in a company pension scheme you can supplement this by making AVCs (Additional Voluntary Contributions) on top.
  • The Law Society is currently dealing with a raft of complaints about solicitors who charged miners an additional fee on top.
  • Charities cannot afford these extra costs on top.

on top of

1On the highest point or uppermost surface of: a town perched on top of a hill
More example sentences
  • It can be laid on top of most surfaces, and is available in a range of colours and decorative finishes.
  • Do not use a grill on top of or underneath any surface that will burn, such as a porch or carport.
  • They advise matches in the kitchen not to be left on top of kitchen surfaces, but to be kept in a cupboard and for parents to regularly check their child's bedroom for matches.
1.1So as to cover; over: his habit of wearing one V-neck jumper on top of another
More example sentences
  • I'm wearing Rebecca's cardigan again, and on top of that one of my red favorites.
  • I went to put a fleece on, on top of my sweatshirt, and thought that perhaps the weather had got chilly again despite having been sunny for most of the day.
2In command or control of: he couldn’t get on top of his work
More example sentences
  • Labour insists it has got on top of these problems.
  • It's a new challenge, and it's something you can never really get on top of.
  • Once I'd got on top of this job, the other priorities all seemed to slot into place.
3In addition to: on top of everything else he’s a brilliant linguist
More example sentences
  • Those additional wage costs are on top of higher prices for oil, steel, copper, plastics, etc.
  • He advised that this was an additional charge on top of the normal council rates.
  • And you may be charged an additional fee on top of the room rates.
4In close proximity to: we all lived on top of each other
More example sentences
  • Like most families, they wanted enough space so they wouldn't feel they were living on top of each other.
  • But invite anybody else to stay over, and you will be living on top of each other.
  • We city dwellers basically live on top of each other, so interactions sometimes get tense, especially when our kids may be threatened.

on top of the world

informal Happy and elated: he was interested in her and she felt on top of the world
More example sentences
  • For a short time, he felt on top of the world.
  • He said he was on top of the world after clinching the World Superbike Championship days after the birth of his first child.
  • Not that I want to lie and pretend I'm on top of the world, but if I could just wait a little longer perhaps I'll find something positive to write.

top and tail

Pronunciation: /ˌtɒp ən(d) ˈteɪl/
1Remove the top and bottom of (a fruit or vegetable) while preparing it as food: top and tail the beans and pull away any fibrous side threads
More example sentences
  • We already know that if we want to eat a carrot safely, we need to generously peel, top and tail it first to remove organophosphate pesticides.
  • As soon as the beetroot is cool enough to handle, top and tail it and remove the skin.
  • However, as he explains: a favourite way to cook young ones is to top and tail the pod, trim off the stringy edges and slice the pod very thin with the beans still in it.
2Wash the face and bottom of (a baby or small child).
Example sentences
  • Before the umbilical cord stump drops off, you can just top and tail your baby, using a bowl of warm water, baby lotion and a soft cloth or cotton wool.
  • If your baby doesn't like baths, ‘top and tail’ her on alternate days - use cotton wool and warm water for eyes and face, and a washcloth for hands and bottom.

top dollar

Pronunciation: /tɒp ˈdɒlə/
informal A very high price: I pay top dollar for my materials
More example sentences
  • Local businesses who didn't want to pay top dollar for design firms would hold ‘logo design contests’ for my dad's students.
  • It's powerful corporations that pay top dollar for receptive ears in Washington.
  • If you really want to ski this winter and you don't want to pay top dollar, look for those quiet times.

top of the morning

Irish Used as a friendly morning greeting: top of the morning to you, Inspector
More example sentences
  • The top of the morning to you.
  • This guy walked by me and actually said: ‘top of the morning to you’.

the top of the tree

The highest level of a profession or career.
Example sentences
  • I got to the top of the tree as a marketing professional with United Distillers, but I always wanted to broaden my skills.
  • If you do eventually want to get to the top of the tree, then do it the hard way and make sure that you learn all aspects of the business.
  • These days he is not at the top of the tree, but he still enjoys playing and his ambition is to win a tournament in this decade so that he will have won titles in each of four successive decades.

top ten (or twenty etc.)

The first ten (or twenty etc.) records in the pop music charts.
Example sentences
  • Christine is one of the few female writers to have charted two hit records in the same top ten.
  • Their single ‘With You’ Is currently riding high in the charts, in the top twenty for the second week and now at no 16 from last week's no 15.
  • Any album that has ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ on it has got to make the top ten.

to top it all

As a culminating, typically unpleasant, event or action in a series: her father had a fatal heart attack and to top it all her mother disowned her
More example sentences
  • This year has been a difficult year for my family and me, but to top it all, now I am in quarantine for SARS - I cannot believe it!
  • And, to top it all, the indifference shown by the government is appalling.
  • And to top it all, a moratorium on debt repayments will only postpone the inevitable into the future.

up top

see up.

Phrasal verbs


top something off

1Finish something in a memorable or notable way: the festive celebration was topped off with the awarding of prizes
More example sentences
  • The celebrations of the day will be topped off with an open air dance to the music of The Conquerors, from 12-2 a.m.
  • It's been a dream year and this just tops it off.
  • We topped the day off by going to see ‘Minority Report’ at Greenwich Cinema.
2US informal Fill up a partly full tank with fuel: check the fluid reservoir and top it off if necessary
More example sentences
  • Make sure the station's generator is functioning (hopefully there is one!) and make sure the fuel tank is topped off.
  • Prior to the storms, all the generators had been tested at full load and all of their tanks had been topped off.
  • And when you do decide to go all the way with a full tank of gas, don't bother topping it off because filling past the first ‘click’ will create sloshing and allow the gas you tried to squeeze in to spill over and out.

top out

Reach an upper limit: collectors whose budgets tend to top out at about $50,000
More example sentences
  • It starts at $20,395, and tops out at $24,590.
  • It tops out at approximately 100 kilometres per hour and a fully charged battery will only take you 80 km.
  • The price range starts at just under £18,000 and tops out at not much more than £21,000.

top something out

Put the highest structural feature on a building, typically as a ceremony to mark the building’s completion: most of the staff turned out to watch the reactor being topped out (as noun topping out) Councillor Smith performed the topping out ceremony
More example sentences
  • Despite price tags that ran into the multimillions of dollars for a penthouse with views of the Santa Monica mountains, the downtown Los Angeles skyline, and the Pacific Ocean, all units were sold before the structure was topped out.
  • The building's topping out ceremony was carried out on Friday by Noel Ahern TD, Minister of State at the Department of the Environment & Local Government.
  • Building work on the New Farleigh hospice site in Broomfield reached new heights this week, with a topping out ceremony to complete the roof.

top someone up

informal Refill a partly full glass or cup for someone: can I top you up, Mr Willoughby?
More example sentences
  • Allow me to top you up my dear.
  • Let me top you up.
  • Can I top you up?

top something up

chiefly British
Add to a number or amount to bring it up to a certain level: a 0.5 per cent bonus is offered to top up savings rates
More example sentences
  • But the government only tops it up to that level if you are on a full state pension.
  • The maximum contribution each year is £3,600, which means that you pay £2,808 and the Inland Revenue tops it up by the standard tax rate of 22%.
  • Mr Warren said Carter then proceeded to help herself to the building society money, topping it up from the bank account when it ran low.
5.1Fill up a glass or other partly full container: he topped up our glasses and filled his own
More example sentences
  • He swallowed half of it immediately; sighing as it warmed his stomach, before topping the glass back up again and slowly putting the bottle away.
  • With every handshake my glass was topped up with a nip of whisky and by 1am I was feeling rather wobbly.
  • Neil Hinton, defending, said during the evening her glass had been topped up several times.
fill, refill, refresh, freshen, replenish, recharge, resupply;
supplement, add to, augment
5.2Add credit to a pay-as-you-go mobile phone account.


Late Old English topp (noun), of Germanic origin; related to Dutch top 'summit, crest'.

  • Found in Old English, a child's toy, related to tip; came from Old Norse in Middle English. The expression to go over the top originated in the First World War, when it described troops in the trenches charging over the parapets to attack the enemy. It gradually developed the meaning ‘to do something to an excessive or exaggerated degree’, possibly in reference to the huge numbers of soldiers who died in the conflict. Soon people were shortening it to simply over the top, and since the early 1980s it has been reduced even further to the abbreviation OTT, particularly when referring to acting. See also sleep

Words that rhyme with top

atop, bop, chop, clop, cop, crop, dop, drop, Dunlop, estop, flop, fop, glop, hop, intercrop, knop, kop, lop, mop, op, plop, pop, prop, screw-top, shop, slop, sop, stop, strop, swap, tiptop, underprop, whop
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There are 4 main definitions of top in English:

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top 2

Pronunciation: /tɒp/


1 (also spinning top) A conical, spherical, or pear-shaped toy that with a quick or vigorous twist may be set to spin.
Example sentences
  • Boys play marbles, spin tops, fly kites, and play such games as kabaddi (team wrestling).
  • We liked hurling tops and see them spin, jump and hiss.
  • Atoms have spin; replace the tops with atoms and now you're imagining a basic quantum computer!
2Used in names of top shells, e.g. strawberry top.


Late Old English, of unknown origin.

  • Found in Old English, a child's toy, related to tip; came from Old Norse in Middle English. The expression to go over the top originated in the First World War, when it described troops in the trenches charging over the parapets to attack the enemy. It gradually developed the meaning ‘to do something to an excessive or exaggerated degree’, possibly in reference to the huge numbers of soldiers who died in the conflict. Soon people were shortening it to simply over the top, and since the early 1980s it has been reduced even further to the abbreviation OTT, particularly when referring to acting. See also sleep

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There are 4 main definitions of top in English:

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Top 40 3

Entry from US English dictionary

plural noun

The forty most popular songs of a given time period.
Example sentences
  • We'd have waited until Sunday and recorded the songs off The Top 40 if it had been us.
  • Like the shift from network radio to the rise of independent stations, Top 40 happened quickly, between 1955 and '57.
  • … The Internet means exposure, and these days, unless you're in the Top 40, you're not getting on the radio.


Made up of, or broadcasting the Top 40: a Top 40 countdown
More example sentences
  • The Top 40 countdown is at about number six when I flick over, so I get to see what's at top of the charts (which I have given up following for the last year or two).
  • We're moving closer to No.1 in our preseason Top 40 countdown.
  • When she's not in the perfume factory, club hopping or filming her reality series ‘The Simple Life,’ Hilton has also recently recorded an album and her first single is already a hit on Top 40 radio stations.
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There are 4 main definitions of top in English:

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