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top banana

SEE MORE SYNONYMS FOR top banana ON THESAURUS.COM

noun Slang.

a leading comedian in musical comedy, burlesque, vaudeville, etc.: For many years he was top banana on the circuit.
the chief person in a group or undertaking.

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RELATED WORDS

ace, bigwig, star

Nearby words

tootsy, tootsy-wootsy, toowoomba, top, top 40, top banana, top billing, top boot, top brass, top cat, top dead-centre

Origin of top banana

First recorded in 1950–55
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for top banana

top banana


noun slang, mainly US

the leading comedian in vaudeville, burlesque, etc
the leader; boss
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

Idioms and Phrases with top banana

top banana


Also, top dog. The principal person in a group, organization, or undertaking, as in His plan was to be top banana within ten years, or Now that she's top dog you can't get hold of her at all. The first term comes from show business, where from the early 1900s it has signified the leading comedian (possibly the original allusion was to Frank Lebowitz, a burlesque comedian who used bananas in his act). It also gave rise to second banana, for a supporting actor, usually a straight man. Both were transferred to more general use in the second half of the 1900s, as in executive Peter Barton's statement, “There is a certain pain to being a second banana, but you have to have an ability to sublimate your ego,” quoted in The New York Times, May 15, 1996. The variant, top dog, originated in sports in the late 1800s and signified the odds-on favorite or winner in a contest; it alludes to the dog who wins (comes out on top) in a dogfight.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.