Is "toppest" not a word?

12

1

My question was edited just now. The editor pointed out that:

fixing grammar ("toppest" is not a word; I'm guessing you mean "uppermost")

But I find it does exist after searching: it's in Urban Dictionary. Thesaurus.com also tells me toppest exists.

Then, I searched in my local dictionaries, and strangely, nothing about toppest is found.

My Chrome plugin Grammarly also tells me toppest is not a word and wants to change it to most top:

screenshot of the Grammarly plugin

  • Who is correct?
  • If toppest exists, how is it different from uppermost?

陳 力

Posted 2018-05-24T13:40:14.110

Reputation: 379

61urban dictionary is not a resource to rely on for anything in learning a language. it is mainly a joke site with joke or rude meanings. Never open a urban dictionary definition in the office. – WendyG – 2018-05-24T13:42:31.637

13Urban Dictionary should only be used for slang terms. Trust the real dictionaries for formal and proper language. The edit in your post is correctly changed to uppermost for what you wanted to say. Thesaurus.com is linked with Dictionary.com and the Dictionary side does not include "Toppest". The thesaurus is just trying to be helpful. – Jay A. Little – 2018-05-24T13:53:29.280

1There is the word topmost. And we do speak of "the toppest trees" , for example, meaning the tallest, and "the toppest twigs" which are the twigs at the top of the tree. – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2018-05-24T13:57:42.373

13@Tᴚoɯɐuo you might but my teacher would have given me stern words for that. We talk of the "tallest" tress and the topmost or uppermost branches – WendyG – 2018-05-24T14:08:33.347

1Well, @WendyG, I don't doubt you. But let me give you a few stern words myself: you can easily determine whether I am right by consulting a couple of decent dictionaries. – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2018-05-24T14:45:26.087

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@Tᴚoɯɐuo: I've never come across toppest trees before, and it doesn't figure in NGrams. There's *one* written instance in Google Books, but it looks more like a facetious "nonce coinage" (not even in the tip-toppest branch of the tip- toppest trees) from a semi-literate writer.

– FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2018-05-24T14:48:08.187

2“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.” Through the Looking-Glass – Ronald Sole – 2018-05-24T14:53:14.073

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@Tᴚoɯɐuo - For what it's worth, OneLook finds sixteen dictionaries that list highest, but only one that lists toppest.

– J.R. – 2018-05-24T16:25:37.017

1

Shouldn't "top" be sufficient in most cases? "Top" already means "the highest point, level, or part of something", so there's little need to make it "even more superlative".

– el.pescado – 2018-05-24T16:45:36.350

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@FumbleFingers: It is a word that's been in use for quite a long time. https://www.google.com/search?q=toppest&num=20&newwindow=1&source=lnms&tbm=bks&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwii_vL_7p7bAhXIqlkKHZj6AOwQ_AUIECgB&biw=1376&bih=1043.

– Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2018-05-24T17:27:01.910

2@Tᴚoɯɐuo: Your "word" is my (facetious) "nonce coinage" (it's not in the full OED, for example). But is it useful for learners to know that some (tiny minority) of native speakers accept it as a word? – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2018-05-24T17:51:15.017

6@FumbleFingers Exactly. Toppest is not for learners. Using toppest will make a learner sound like they have failed to learn. Toppest for Jonathan Swift? Maybe. But not learners. – EllieK – 2018-05-24T18:44:49.493

1I will note that, although Thesaurus.com has synonyms for "Toppest" as noted by the OP, Dictionary.com (which seems to be part of the same site) does not consider it a word. – Kamil Drakari – 2018-05-24T18:54:48.517

And yet "bling-bling" is. Too many non-sensical words are included these days. – CrossRoads – 2018-05-25T15:47:54.893

Answers

38

Toppest is not a word in common usage: topmost or uppermost are recommended.


Currently, toppest is not defined in any of the major dictionaries, and while the meaning can definitely be understood - it'd be recommended to use one of the following:

  • highest

  • topmost

  • uppermost


Highest follows the form you were originally wanting - the first thing is high, the second thing is higher and so the thing that is most high - is highest.

This works for high as it is describes a scalar quantity. That is, you can be a certain amount of high - "very" high, "kinda high" etc. As such, you can compare how high two things are in relation to each other (one may be higher than another).

It unfortunately doesn't work for top which describes a non-comparable position. That is, you cannot be more top than something else - although one thing may be on top of another. This is the same for words such as best, where you cannot be the bestest as you cannot be more best than somebody else (one of you is better and so they are the best).


uppermost and topmost are synonyms, meaning:

(uppermost) situated in the highest or most prominent position
(topmost) highest of all

As these are absolute locations, they also can't be compared (you cannot have the topmostest, or uppormostest).

They are relatively common terms, making it clear that you are talking about the absolute top of something - such as:

The topmost branches of the Scottish Pine

user68033

Posted 2018-05-24T13:40:14.110

Reputation:

"better" and "best" are odd examples here, as they simply are the comparative and superlative of scalar adjective "good". They're irregular, sure, but that's about it. – das-g – 2018-05-24T22:58:47.597

2I think the issue with top is not just that it's not a comparable adjective, but that it's barely even an adjective at all. You can say "my top choice", but you can't say *"[...] is top". – ruakh – 2018-05-25T03:01:35.947

@ruakh You certainly can say "Ruakh is top." (with an implied "... of the class" afterwards) – Martin Bonner supports Monica – 2018-05-25T12:34:03.033

5@MartinBonner "Ruakh is top." sounds very odd to me as a native AME speaker – Kevin – 2018-05-25T13:12:52.557

@Kevin Interesting. Maybe it's specifically BrE? (I am a native BrE speaker). – Martin Bonner supports Monica – 2018-05-25T13:14:48.853

1Good answer. Glad to see it is currently the toppest voted. – aquinas – 2018-05-25T16:33:44.643

11

While toppest is certainly not a word in any standard dictionary, it's always possible for individuals to make up words for fun. A good example of this is embiggen and cromulent, both created for use in the popular animated TV series "The Simpsons".

A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man!

Mrs. Krabappel: "Embiggens"? Hm. Never heard that word before I moved to Springfield
Miss Hoover: I don't know why. It's a perfectly cromulent word.

These are not real words, but their meaning is clear in context, and as a satire of the English language.

A standard variation is tiptop, or the more juvenile version, tippy-top:

He climbed to the very tippy-top of the mountain, and from there he yodeled mightily!

There are many standard words that mean the same thing: highest, uppermost, apex, zenith, acme, peak, pinnacle, summit, vertex and various others.

Andrew

Posted 2018-05-24T13:40:14.110

Reputation: 85 521

11

Note: While the Simpsons writers clearly intended embiggen to be a farcical neologism, it was first used in print over 100 years before the Simpsons popularized it. They can take full credit for cromulent though.

– ShadowRanger – 2018-05-24T19:03:51.563

0

While I might accept toppest to be a word it would need to be some form that needs such a superlative and needs the word top to be there. In your answer the correct term for the "toppest Reference" is "root". I could totally accept that you could recieve top marks in science and English but the toppest marks in math (changing that to uppermost would weaken the wit). There's no reason in this case that top need to be there. And the root of a heap is called the root, so it can't be any sort of jargon.

Tatarize

Posted 2018-05-24T13:40:14.110

Reputation: 109

1You make a good point about tongue-in-cheek usage here. An even funnier quip, in my opinion, would be: He gets top marks in science and math but gets toppest marks in English. – J.R. – 2018-05-25T11:21:11.143

-3

Toppest is indeed a word. It is a colloquialism which is quite well attested. Whether you would want to use it would depend on the register you're after.

Tᴚoɯɐuo

Posted 2018-05-24T13:40:14.110

Reputation: 116 610

6It's pretty funny that one of those search results includes "...He considers getting the novel published one of his top, if not toppest priority.” As soon as Fred said this he wondered if the word “toppest” existed. – stangdon – 2018-05-24T18:07:48.060

4I agree that it's a colloquialism, but I'm not sure that link proves it is "quite well attested." (Once I get past Page 2, I see plenty of links, but can't find the word toppest in them like I see on the first page.) – J.R. – 2018-05-24T21:20:11.010

1Toppest is entirely unattested in the major balanced corpora, but I was able to find a small number of attestations in GloWbE, particularly in the Great Britain subcorpus. While toppest is likely not an established word for some (most?) speakers, it's definitely Out There. – snailplane – 2018-05-25T16:58:09.120

1@J.R. The word was used in sections of Delaware County Pennsylvania where I grew up, by children and also by adult speakers with little formal education who were unselfconscious in their use of language. There were more than a few migrants from Appalachia where I lived. toppest (adj) is cited by Wright in his English Dialect Dictionary. The link I gave shows it being used into the 21st century, so it's been in use for well over 100 years. It is sometimes found in combination with tippy, as in The cat was stuck high up in the tippy-toppest branches of the tree. – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2018-05-25T17:16:30.803

@J.R. Just because the search string isn't in the free preview, it doesn't mean it's not there. For example, one of the results is Wright's dictionary, which you can read here for free (I've linked to the definition TRomano speaks of), but which can't be read directly from Google Books. Going past the second page (there are actually 42 pages of legit results, some of which do repeat, however) you'll find results where toppest can be seen used in a sentence.

– None – 2018-05-25T17:29:02.090

@userr2684291 - If the information from those last two comments had been woven into this answer from the outset, perhaps it would not have received so many downvotes (none of which are mine, btw). – J.R. – 2018-05-25T18:23:44.343