Top Tier – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Are you looking for a way to tell someone that something is simply the best? You could use the phrase “top tier” to show them that they’re making the right choice.

This post explores the meaning and origin of the saying top tier.

Meaning

The phrase top tier means that something is the best, that it ranks among the best options, or that it is excellent.

To break that down further:

  • Top refers to the highest place.
  • The word “tier” means rank, gradation, range, or order. It originates from the old French word “tire”, which had the same meaning and was pronounced in the same way.

The term top tier can be used to refer to a wide variety of excellent commodities or even people. Young gamers tend to use top tier to refer to the most powerful characters or weapons in a game, or to the best players.

Example Usage

Should you be curious about the wide range of ways in which the phrase top tier can be used, these examples can help you out:

  • Top tier gasoline isn’t just regular gasoline sold at a higher price; it has to meet higher standards and is actually much better.
  • Well done on winning that esports tournament, bro! That was a top tier play!
  • Michael here went to a top tier school for rich kids and thinks he is better than us.
  • One thing I like about TF2 is that there’s no such thing as top tier They’re all balanced and you just pick the one that you like best.

Origin

The word “tier” comes from thirteenth-century French; “tire” meant rank, order, or sequence, especially in a military context. Tire, in turn, likely originated with the word “tirer“, which means “to draw out”. The English word tirade has the same origin.

“Top” is a very old word with Proto-Germanic origins. It has a variety of meanings, including the highest or uppermost place, the best, or the upper layer of a any surface.

The phrase top tier combines these two words, to indicate that something — and occasionally someone — is (among) the best of a range of options. Top tier gasoline is one commonly used example.

Use of the phrase top tier remains popular among modern internet users, and top tier was first defined on Urban Dictionary in 2003. The person who submitted the entry chose “the best […] character in a game” as the primary meaning of the phrase, followed by “the best”.

Phrases Similar to Top Tier

Instead of top tier, you could also say:

  • Premium
  • Elite
  • First-rate

Indeed, in some cases, omitting the word “tier” and simply saying “top” works just as well.

Phrases Opposite to Top Tier

While “low tier” would technically be the best antonym for “top tier”, you can also say:

  • (In games) Loser
  • Terrible
  • Dreadful

What Is the Correct Saying?

The correct saying is “top tier”, meaning the best, among the best, or even just very good.

Ways People May Say Top Tier Incorrectly

Since “tier” implies the presence of multiple gradations, some of which are decidedly better-ranked than others, it would be incorrect to refer to the only choice as being top tier. If, for instance, only one type of gasoline was sold, it would make no sense to call it top tier.

It would also be incorrect to refer to a person as being top tier, although you can call someone a top tier player.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Top Tier

You can use the phrase top tier to refer to anything that is the best among its kind, whether you are talking about pizza, food delivery services, esports players, or even individual matches within a game.

This phrase indicates that you think the item, service, or player in question is excellent, very talented, or held to extremely high standards. While the phrase top tier is commonly used in the English language, across contexts, it refers to the best layout or strongest character in video games.

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