Green's Dictionary: "top apple" and one more "big apple" attestation

Gerald Cohen gcohen at MST.EDU
Fri Aug 19 22:16:34 UTC 2011

_Green's Dictionary of Slang_, 2010, (by Jonathon Green)
is massive (3 volumes, about a thousand pages each).I don't know
how he did it, but our field owes a deep debt of gratitude both to him and
his uncle whose bequest made Green's magnum opus possible. (Green
warmly pays tribute for this in his preface.)

Now, for the archives, a bit more information on "the big apple". ---
Green's dictionary contains a few previously unnoticed relevant attestations
for this term with the meaning "an important person"):

1) Two quotes for "top apple" (an important person); I had not
previously come across this entry:
1906 E. DYSON _Fact'ry 'Ands_ 1: She's [...] their top apple,
th' ole blessed cake-walk, 'n' straight ez er church.

1956: 'ED LACY' _Men From the Boys_ (1967) 76: For once I want to nail down
a big boy, a top apple.

And there's one specifically for 'the big apple":

1955 'ED LACY' _Best that Ever Did It_ (1957) 153:  Franzino was there,
along with two big apples from the Police Department.

Incidentally, Green says of 'big apple' and 'top apple' that
they are 'US Underworld' -- 'US' is correct, but 'the big apple'
(important person or thing) was not limited to the underworld.

Gerald Cohen
Co-author with Barry Popik of
_Origin of New York City's Nickname "The Big
Apple"_ (Frankfurt a. M.: Peter Lang), 2nd edition.

The American Dialect Society -

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