having the top disproportionately heavy; liable to fall from too great weight above.
relatively much heavier or larger above the center or waist than below: a top-heavy wrestler.
  1. having a financial structure overburdened with securities that have priority in the payment of dividends.
  2. overcapitalized.

Origin of top-heavy

First recorded in 1525–35; top1 + heavy
Related formstop-heav·i·ly, adverbtop-heav·i·ness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for top-heavy

Historical Examples of top-heavy

  • "And you're getting it so high it's top-heavy," cautioned Mrs. Drelmer.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • But the weight of the stones makes him top-heavy; he falls in and is drowned.


    Benjamin Taylor

  • And your skull will be so top-heavy with prudence, that it will be difficult for you to keep on your feet.

    The Cycle of Spring

    Rabindranath Tagore

  • It was almost a miracle that the top-heavy sled did not upset.

    The Camp in the Snow

    William Murray Graydon

  • Top-heavy was the ship as a dinnerless student with all Aristotle in his head.

British Dictionary definitions for top-heavy



unstable or unbalanced through being overloaded at the top
finance (of an enterprise or its capital structure) characterized by or containing too much debt capital in relation to revenue or profit so that too little is left over for dividend distributions; overcapitalized
(of a business enterprise) having too many executives
Derived Formstop-heavily, adverbtop-heaviness, noun
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 top-heavy

1530s, from top (n.1) + heavy.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper