Top notch


What's the meaning of the phrase 'Top notch'?

Other phrases with

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What's the origin of the phrase 'Top notch'?

‘Top notch’ is of American origin and followed on from the earlier, British ‘topping’. The US also later adopted ‘the tops’. All these phrases mean the same thing. Presumably, those who were ‘top notch’ had avoided the indignity of being ‘taken down a peg‘.

The earliest example I’ve found of ‘top notch’ in print is in a letter to the Huron Reflector, May 1845:

“Now, Messrs. Editors, perhaps I have lived too long in the woods, to know exactly what makes good manners in the very top notch of society.”

See other phrases that were coined in the USA.

Trend of top notch in printed material over time

Gary Martin is a writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.

Gary Martin

Writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.