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Of or having the highest quality, skill, value, importance, or rank. Hyphenated if used before a noun. That performance from Bueler in the last round really was top drawer. Ever since he got that promotion, Tom's taken to drinking only top-drawer liquor when we go out.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
Of the highest quality, importance, or rank, as in The musicians in this pick-up orchestra were top drawer. It probably alludes to the uppermost drawer in a bureau or chest, where the most valuable objects (such as jewelry) are usually kept. [c. 1900]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
mod. top-quality. I want to hire a young MBA who’s top-drawer.
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
Of the highest quality or rank. The term alludes to the uppermost drawer of a bureau or dresser, where jewelry and other valuables often are kept. It was transferred to mean high social standing or first quality about 1900. It is the former that Ngaio Marsh referred to in Colour Scheme (1943): “He’s not out of the top drawer, of course.”The cliché may now be obsolescent.
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
Highest quality. The 19th-century practice of keeping jewelry and other valuables in the highest drawer of a bedroom dresser gave rise to this phrase, which was applied both to people and to things. “First rate” is a similar phrase, as is “varsity,” meaning a person figuratively sufficiently admirable to qualify for the starting team.
Endangered Phrases by Steven D. Price Copyright © 2011 by Steven D. Price