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the bottom line
1. Literally, the final figure on a statement showing a person or company's total profit or loss. What is the bottom line for this quarter?
2. By extension, the most important aspect of something. You have all made compelling arguments, but the bottom line is that we need a viable, cost-effective solution, and I still don't think we've found one yet.
3. Profit or the desire for profit as an ultimate goal. These large corporations are only driven by the bottom line. They couldn't care less whether their product is durable.
1. Lit. the last figure on a financial profit-and-loss statement, or on a bill. What's the bottom line? How much do I owe you? Don't tell me all those figures! Just tell me the bottom line.
2. Fig. the result; the final outcome. I know about all the problems, but what is the bottom line? What will happen? The bottom line is that you have to go to the meeting because no one else can.
The ultimate result, the upshot; also, the main point or crucial factor. For example, The bottom line is that the chairman wants to dictate all of the board's decisions, or Whether or not he obeyed the law is the bottom line. This is an accounting term that refers to the earnings figures that appear on the bottom (last) line of a statement. It began to be transferred to other contexts in the mid-1900s.
The ultimate result; the most important element. The term comes from accounting, where the bottom line of a financial statement shows the earnings figures. In the mid-twentieth century, the term began to be transferred to the outcome of any kind of undertaking, and soon afterward it was extended to mean the crux of any problem or the consequences of any issue. It is well on its way to becoming a cliché.