Stories We Like: Novels For Language Lovers
"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.
: He got the top recommendation (1714+)noun
a toy having a body of conical, circular, or oval shape, often hollow, with a point or peg on which it turns or is made to whirl. If given a knock, a spinning top will go around in a circle at a slant; if spun with a slant at the start, it will quickly stand upright until halted by friction. Its physical properties are similar to those of the gyroscope. Some tops, as the common peg top, are spun by means of a cord. Whipping tops are kept spinning by whips with a lash. Other tops are spun by a twist of the hand or the action of a spring or a plunger. Some hollow tops, such as the thunder tops of Japan, have holes cut in them to produce a hum or roar.