[ top-doun ]

  1. relating to, originating with, or directed by those of highest rank: a centralized, top-down organization with a chain of command reporting up from every corner of the earth.

  2. organized or proceeding from the larger, more general structure to smaller, more detailed units, as in processing information: Top-down investing looks at the big picture, or how the overall economy drives the markets, and then focuses on individual stocks.

  1. Computers. noting or relating to a methodology used in the design and coding of programs that takes a high-level description of a problem and successively breaks it into smaller and simpler subunits.

Origin of top-down

First recorded in 1940–45; 1970–75 for def. 3; adjective use of the adverb phrase “from the top down

Words Nearby top-down Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use top-down in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for top-down


  1. controlled, directed, or organized from the top

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