Posted by Kitty on March 25, 2003
In Reply to: Top hole posted by TheFallen on March 25, 2003
: : : Dorothy Sayers's character Lord Peter Wimsey had a pechant for saying "Top hole!" when most of us would say "Top notch!" Assuming a notch is not a hole, I imagine that there is some sort of game or competitive event--probably British--that marks rank with a dowel on a board punctured with a verticle set of holes. Am I right? If so, what is the game? I suspect British origin for "top hole" because I have never heard the phrase here in America, and the only speaker I have ever heard use it is the famous fictive Brit, Lord Peter.
: : I'm not sure, but I think the phrase is 'top whole' - ie the entire thing is tops.
: It's definitely outdated and aristocratic British slang. I also am not sure, but I think I've only ever seen the phrase written as the original poster had it - namely "top hole".
The American Heritage Dictionary on Bartleby.com has the following:
ADJECTIVE: Chiefly British First-rate; excellent.
The The Institute for Edwardian Studies lists this as an "Edwardianism" (term or phrase used during the Edwardian period).