at bottom, in reality; fundamentally: They knew at bottom that they were only deceiving themselves.Also at the bottom.
    bet one's bottom dollar,
    1. to wager the last of one's money or resources.
    2. to be positive or assured: You can bet your bottom dollar that something will prevent us from leaving on time.
    bottoms up, (used as an interjection to announce or urge the downing of one's drink).
    hit bottom, to fall into the worst of all possible circumstances: After all those years of flying high, she finally hit bottom. When the housing market crashed, it really hit bottom, leaving people with houses worth less than their mortgages.

Origin of bottom

before 1000; Middle English botme, Old English botm; akin to Old Norse botn, Dutch bodem, German Boden, Latin fundus, Greek pythmḗn, Sanskrit budhná
Related formsun·bot·tom, verb (used with object)un·der·bot·tom, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for at bottom



the lowest, deepest, or farthest removed part of a thingthe bottom of a hill
the least important or successful positionthe bottom of a class
the ground underneath a sea, lake, or river
touch bottom to run aground
the inner depths of a person's true feelings (esp in the phrase from the bottom of one's heart)
the underneath part of a thing
nautical the parts of a vessel's hull that are under water
(in literary or commercial contexts) a boat or ship
billiards snooker a strike in the centre of the cue ball
a dry valley or hollow
(often plural) US and Canadian the low land bordering a river
the lowest level worked in a mine
(esp of horses) staying power; stamina
importance, seriousness, or influencehis views all have weight and bottom
informal the buttocks
at bottom in reality; basically or despite appearances to the contraryhe's a kind man at bottom
be at the bottom of to be the ultimate cause of
get to the bottom of to discover the real truth about
knock the bottom out of to destroy or eliminate

adjective (prenominal)

lowest or lastthe bottom price
bet one's bottom dollar on or put one's bottom dollar on to be absolutely sure of (one's opinion, a person, project, etc)
of, relating to, or situated at the bottom or a bottomthe bottom shelf
fundamental; basic


(tr) to provide (a chair, etc) with a bottom or seat
(tr) to discover the full facts or truth of; fathom
(usually foll by on or upon) to base or be founded (on an idea, etc)
(intr) nautical to strike the ground beneath the water with a vessel's bottom
Australian mining
  1. to mine (a hole, claim, etc) deep enough to reach any gold there is
  2. (intr foll by on)to reach (gold, mud, etc) on bottoming
electronics to saturate a transistor so that further increase of input produces no change in output
See also bottom out

Word Origin for bottom

Old English botm; related to Old Norse botn, Old High German bodam, Latin fundus, Greek puthmēn
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for at bottom



Old English botm, bodan "ground, soil, foundation, lowest part," from Proto-Germanic *buthm- (cf. Old Frisian boden "soil," Old Norse botn, Dutch bodem, Old High German bodam, German Boden "ground, earth, soil"), from PIE root *bhu(n)d(h)- (cf. Sanskrit budhnah, Avestan buna- "bottom," Greek pythmen "foundation," Latin fundus "bottom, piece of land, farm," Old Irish bond "sole of the foot"). Meaning "posterior of a person" is from 1794. Bottom dollar "the last dollar one has" is from 1882. Bottom-feeder, originally of fishes, is from 1866.



1540s, "to put a bottom on," from bottom (n.). Meaning "to reach the bottom of" is from 1808 (earlier figuratively, 1785). Related: Bottomed; bottoming.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with at bottom

at bottom

Fundamentally, basically; also, in reality. For example, He may speak somewhat bluntly, but at bottom he's always honest. Charles Dickens used this idiom in Nicholas Nickleby (1838): “He's a good pony at bottom.” [Early 1700s]


In addition to the idioms beginning with bottom

  • bottom drops out, the
  • bottom line
  • bottom of the barrel
  • bottom of the ladder
  • bottom out

also see:

  • at bottom
  • from head to toe (top to bottom)
  • from the bottom of one's heart
  • get to the bottom
  • hit (touch) bottom
  • knock the bottom out of
  • rock bottom
  • touch bottom
  • you bet your ass (bottom dollar)
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.